Submitted by Paula Seale
Three years ago the BUT named a road in its housing project after former president Karen Best. There is a fence between the land of the project and the bus stop next to the hardware store in Hothersal if you want directions. Mrs. Best said her vice president Pedro Shepherd had wanted to lease the land to raise his chickens. The offer was made between 2003 when Mrs. Best become president and 2012 when she resigned.
According to Mrs. Best, he wanted to pay a dollar a year to lease the 12 acres of land. When I heard about that I started to ask myself some questions. What good to the union was one dollar a year? What sort of conscience does it take to offer to pay one dollar annually to use 12 acres of land? Land which belongs to the union you are serving as vice president? Mr. Shepherd was on YouTube on Monday. I was listening to hear about the money the ministry docked from teachers like me back in 2016. I didn’t hear anything about that.
I left the BUT this year because I have no confidence in Mr. Shepherd. My issues started with that dollar a year talk. It had me puzzled and caused me to start thinking about what I was going to accept. After all he and his cronies did for two years to sabotage the former president he is back. And now it is embarrassment and more embarrassment.
I went to buy groceries on Wednesday. A group of people were laughing when they talking about the union in the car park. One woman who overheard them asked if teachers couldn’t find somebody else to be president. She even brought up the degrees and education we talk about having. The man with her said Mr. Shepherd should stick to the smaller words he can manage and stop reading from a laptop like a robot. I was embarrassed as a teacher. We are becoming the laughing stock of Barbados.
Mr. Shepherd is one of the people named in the docking of pay case so he should be able to inform us. I believe he wants back his money and I would love mine too. Why weren’t teachers informed about the case on Monday? We should be able to get an update. Mr. Shepherd asked Mr. Spencer for an update at the annual conference two years ago. Why can’t Mr. Shepherd give us an update now?
Fair is fair.
It looked like Mr. Shepherd was no closer to understanding secondary school matters on Monday. We do not stay with one class for an entire school day. I may teach four or five different groups in one school day. We can’t stop teaching at lunch each day to come back the next day and continue with the same class. lt does not work like that. As a former student, a parent of adult children, the ex-husband of a secondary school teacher and the president of a teachers’ union he should understand more about how things work in secondary schools. He was the BUT president for a long time. He does not seem to be learning though. Either that, he doesn’t care to learn, he isn’t interested in learning or he was never interested.
In these times I would not boast about being at work from 9 to 1 like he did. Many of us are under constant pressure. As the president it can’t only be about him. I believe that was thoughtless and careless. A lot of teachers put in very long hours preparing lessons day and night. And then they have to be online to teach those lessons, do corrections, create notes and exercises, and still attend to the home, find time to sleep, take care of their families, go shopping and so on.
Mr. Shepherd is the IT Coordinator at Wilkie. I understand another teacher was doing a lot of the IT work there for years. But that never stopped him from arguing about not getting his coordinator’s allowance. Before Mr. Spencer beat him in 2018, he was on the executive from 1996. The people in the area around Wilkie would tell you that he was at that school for over 30 years. Despite his time at the school and as a union man and as a top officer of the union, Wilkie is in bad shape.
He said the ministry can’t touch teachers’ money back at the meeting in Queen’s Park. We all know what happened after that. Now he and Ronald Jones are on the DLP executive together. So teachers can’t hear about the pay that was docked when Mr. Jones was the Minister of Education. That would remind people of how the party Mr. Shepherd serves as Ass. General Secretary treats teachers’ rights and salaries. It is not like the BLP is any better.
Union elections are due next month. So I expect Mr. Shepherd will be in the news more regularly now. What we aren’t hearing about is the money we lost when he was president in 2016. What teachers need from the union is representation. Not comments that make the president and teachers by extension seem foolish to the public.
What about term’s leave?
What is the union doing about leave?
Has the lawyer said anything about the long leave or the docking of pay?
Teachers want to know. We deserve to know.