Educators protest over issues at BTVI

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

tsmith-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

MEMBERS of the Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas protested outside the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute yesterday over a litany of outstanding staff issues with the school.

BTVI workers, who have recently been represented by the union, have frequently complained about poor treatment from executives at the school. This treatment, they say, includes lack of pay raises, overdue bonuses and no real path to advancement on the job.

UTEB President Daniel Thompson said the staff has had enough of the alleged poor treatment and will speak out now that they have a voice through the union.

“Today we went to BTVI and held a demonstration on the outside of the administrative block,” he said. “And then we met with Dr Robert Robertson, president of BTVI and he committed to provide bonus payment on Wednesday of this week.”

This promise comes ahead of Thursday’s general election. Many unions have held demonstrations or withdrawn services recently in an attempt to force the government to settle their outstanding matters before September 16.

The Bahamas Electrical Workers Union signed its industrial agreement with Bahamas Power and Light last week, amid a cloud of tension between the two parties. The BEWU and executive management at BPL had a tumultuous relationship leading up to the signing of the agreement. Both parties have expressed relief in finally reaching an agreement.

Mr Thompson went on to explain the frustration of BTVI’s faculty and what led to yesterday’s demonstration.

“They have not had increments for two years and even before that, increments were being withheld according to the institute’s desire,” he said. “There is no clear career path and there are a litany of problems with its human resource arrangement. So the faculty sought representation by UTEB.

“We will wait for his action before we determine our next course of action. This is really indicative of the continuous disrespect and disregard that BTVI has shown to its workers and its faculty in particular. UTEB will continue to fight to ensure that they are no longer marginalised and that they are fairly treated.”

The union has constantly spoken on behalf of faculty there but had no power until this year to take some action against what is described as neglect of BTVI’s human resources.

“We received recognition on June 28 of this year and so we have only begun to engage in the process of our industrial agreement,” Mr Thompson continued. “We haven’t had our first meeting as yet. We have only just identified our negotiating teams. We do not have an industrial agreement and hence that’s a part of the problem.

“So in the past the institute has been doing whatever they wish without recourse from the union. Now that has to stop.”