The Jeff Broomes Affair, Again–What About the Children?

Submitted by Anthony Davis
Jeff Broomes, Principal of Parkinson School

Jeff Broomes, Principal of Parkinson School

Teachers at Parkinson Memorial Secondary are expected to go on the picket line tomorrow morning to protest principal Jeff Broomes’ failure to take disciplinary action against students who took knives and other weapons to school.” – Barbados Today 9 Feb 2015. It is incomprehensible to me why the teachers unions are always ready to strike. Is it because about twelve weeks’ vacation – plus about an additional three days as “Teachers’ days” – are not enough?

I don’t see any other profession getting extra days every three months, so why should teachers? The most of the tax payers who pay them, and whose scions they are supposed to teach, do not even get a quarter of the time off for vacation. They seem to have utter contempt for the parents/guardians of their charges, and by extension the students. They already have their education – paid for by the said people whose children they seem bent on depriving of theirs.

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Jeff Broomes is a Glutton for Punishment

Submitted by Bush Tea

What the hell!

Bushie turned on the TV by accident this [yesterday] morning only to see Jeff Broomes and two of his students – the head girl and deputy head girl – on the DLP TV talking about a peer program at Parkinson School on Mornin’ Barbados.
Some Shiite gotta be wrong with Broomes. In this age of total and complete shiites in eddy kashun in Barbados this man keeps coming up with impressive ideas, selfless developmental concepts, and high quality initiatives that goes completely against the grain…. He gotta be looking for enemies…

The man turns up with two TOTALLY impressive young ladies on the TV, IMMACULATELY dressed, looking confident and relaxed, and totally on board with his leadership. Shiite man Jeff…. Wuh you think you at HC or wuh?

Then they go on to outline a program that is clearly designed to build camaraderie among students, teachers and parents, to address bullying, to improve academic results,  to improve the school’s image….and this program cost almost nothing.

This is madness!

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Jeff Broomes, Principal of Parkinson Memorial School

Jeff Broomes, Principal of Parkinson Memorial School

The Alexandra School Saga provoked the intervention of Prime Minister Stuart and led to the establishment of the Alexandra Commission of Inquiry.  Six hundred thousand dollars later many of the actors were transferred hither thither an yon or forced to retire BUT the principle actor has re-emerged, Principal JEFF BROOMES.

News broke yesterday {28/10/2014) that Parkinson Memorial School was forced to close around midday because 39 out of 61 staff members decided to attend a meeting at the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) headquarters to air “grievances over the management style and other practices of principal JEFF BROOMES. For many it evoked a feeling of déjà vu. It was not a strike action but the union obviously sanctioned the meeting.

Many will again take sides, BU prefers to locate the JEFF BROOMES issue in the realm of Barbados’ capacity to solve problems. If JEFF BROOMES has a management style that is creating tension at the school, there are tried and tested management methods to diagnose and inform a solution.

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Jeff Broomes Drags Parkinson Secondary School into the Public Eye

The Alexandra Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Justice Frederick Waterman was established by the Prime Minister as a means to resolve the long running conflict between former principal Jeff Broomes and the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU). The Ministry of Education at the conclusion of the Inquiry transferred 18 teachers AND Jeff Broomes who was appointed principal of Parkinson School. Less than two years later Uncle Jeff is at the centre of another dispute at his latest school. It is too early for the fair minded to take sides even if the protagonists are the same.

Is Big Brother Listening to YOU?

Submitted by St George’s Dragon
What happened to the surveillance equipment used by CWC?

What happened to the surveillance equipment used by CWC?

The big news in the USA and UK is about their Governments tapping into the internet service providers and having access to all the emails, Skype calls, photos etc., that go through Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and the other technology companies.

What about Barbados?

Will our Government tell us what access it has to our private data? No, of course not. Will our press seek out the truth as happened in the USA and UK? I don’t think so. So it is left to us, the public, to piece together the facts about what goes on behind the scenes in Barbados. Here is my starter for ten.

There have been rumours in the past of phone tapping relating to Jeff Broomes, Hal Gollop and a senior officer in the BPF. Although the Hal Gollop case was referred to the police, unsurprisingly I don’t remember seeing any conclusion to this or the other cases.

It is fairly common knowledge that some security systems were put in place at the time of the World Cup Cricket in 2007 although the headline was focused on a “blimp” which apparently no longer works. It is also known that there is a Command and Control centre in the District A Police Station grounds although what it does is not clear. One of the floors was rumoured to have been fitted out by or for an Israeli company. An Israeli company was also linked to the cameras which appeared on the south coast a while ago. Whether that is the same company is not clear, although the odds are that it is likely to be.

So is Big Brother listening in? What other information do you know?

To Alexandra and Back: A DEFINING MOMENT For the DLP Government?

Submitted by Yardbroom
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart

In arriving at a just determination, when a plethora of evidence must be examined by a properly constituted tribunal,  it is often best to decide first on what can be agreed on.  In the Alexandra issue it is agreed – or appears – that the problems there started before the term of this DLP Government.  However, when elected to government  problems should be solved which you inherited, that is the nature of being elected to govern.  So the problems despite their history must be solved by this administration.

In the first instance  Prime Minister Freundel Stuart stood back and was criticised for so doing.  With a cabinet consisting of Ministers with portfolios in charge of respective departments, they are expected to discharge their responsibilities.  A Prime Minister should not be seen as a dictator, he must allow his ministers an opportunity to make decisions.  When the problem of Alexandra appeared intractable the Prime Minister agreed to meet with BSTU and if the speech made by them after the meeting is to be believed, they were listened to.  In politics being cordially welcomed and politely listened to does not always mean an agreement with your stated position.

The Prime Minister decided having listened to the complex issues involved, to go the route of a Commission Of Inquiry.  Here (On BU) there was “some”  disagreement with this course of action.  However, this decision gave the electorate to whom the Government is ultimately responsible an opportunity to learn first hand of the issues involved and form an impression – on the plausibility of evidence – of the major players giving evidence before the Commission.

Why is Alexandra important?

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Alexandra School Dispute: Remembering the Children

The wonderful sight of teacher and pupil reunited at the Alexandra School - Photo credit Barbados Advocate

The wonderful sight of teacher and pupil reunited at the Alexandra School – Photo credit Barbados Advocate

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enoughLao Tzu

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is defined as all “the  final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time”. Can BU draw a parallel and define the well being of a country by the quality of key decisions made by the  ‘leaders’ in a given period?

The debate which continues to gain traction in Barbados is about the Alexandra dispute and related issues. It has displaced discussion about the upcoming general election, and significantly, a conversation about the state of the economy. If one were to ask any educated Barbadian what issue should be occupying the attention of the country, the answer should be ‘managing the economy’. It does not mean that all the issues at play in the country should be ignored, just that the exigencies of now require priority planning how we allocate resources.

Tension at the Alexandra School has peaked and troughed since 2005, surely an indictment on the management system with oversight for education. Many problems currently being wrestled by the government have straddled both political parties and different personnel in the public service. What it exposes is a rotten core which drives decision making in Barbados.

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Industrial Climate In Barbados Heats Up As a General Election Approaches

Thanks to traditional media for helping us to do a pulse check of the industrial climate in Barbados today (7 January 2013).

  • The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) has threatened to shut down the country if LIME refuse to return to the negotiating table after sending home 97 workers last week.
  • Jeff Broomes has been reported to be on sick leave suffering from hypertension and did not report to his new posting today.
  • BSTU reports that the 18 teachers will report to headquarters until the ministry of education withdraw the transfer letters.

The Alexandra Incestuous Factor

Karen Best, former BUT President and current Deputy Chief Education Officer

Karen Best, former BUT President and current Deputy Chief Education Officer

Minister Jones, visibly shaken and angry, termed the no-show a “gross insult” and the low point of industrial relations practice in the trade union history of Barbados. Mrs Karen Best, president of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), reportedly said she had never seen anything like it in industrial relations. Her [Best] comments clearly indicate her union will not support the BSTU. For the first time that I can remember, there is a split among five unions – the BSTU and Barbados Workers Union (BWU) on one side, the BUT, BAPPSS and NUPW on the other

Nation Newspaper

It seems to be finally hitting home to Barbadians – especially the political partisans – that the Alexandra School dispute (AX) is not so easy to resolve after all. The Frederick Waterman headed commission of inquiry was suppose to wash away the problem which all have to admit predates this government coming to office.

One view of the AX matter which BU has not put under full scrutiny is the incestuous nature of the relationships of key decision makers and participants in the AX plot. Barbados we know is a small country  and there is an inevitability about how personal relationships can shape public perception about how decisions are taken.

Key players in the AX Mess are Principal Jeff Broomes, Minister Ronald Jones, and Deputy Chief Education Officer Karen Best who are ALL products of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT). To complete the BUT connection we should declare that current President of the Barbados Union of Teachers is Pedro Shepherd who recently challenged for the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) nomination in St. Michael South East.

Of special interest to BU is the recent appointment of Karen Best who has responsibility for schools.

‘Ingredients’ for a cabal you think? It gets better.

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Poor Judgment by Public Service Commission

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

The supposed conclusion to the long-running Alexandra debacle appears to have caused more problems than it would have solved. Some might argue, and I am tempted to agree, that the resolution imposed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) has solved nothing. It would appear that the PSC attempted to settle the internecine warfare that was being waged for years by awarding neither side a victory.

The cowardly solution has resulted in over twenty teachers, including all but one of Alexandra’s management team, being transferred and scattered throughout the Teaching Service. It has proven to be unpopular with a majority of those involved in this unsightly mess. Also, it would appear that the PSC did not consider or paid blatant disregard to the harm their actions would be inflicting on the students who are about to take examinations. The teachers will get over the effects of the transfers with time; but the harm inflicted on the children is potentially devastating on those 4th, 5th and 6th form students whose future could very well be affected.

The harm to the education system and the children aside, the justice system in this country could be irreparably damaged by the fallout from the ill-advised actions of the PSC. The Waterman Commission made recommendations for limited transfers, but unfortunately, the PSC went overboard and transferred/punished most, if not all, of the teachers that appeared before the commission of inquiry as witnesses.

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Alexandra Solution or Confusion?

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me – Pastor Martin Niemoeller

They have come for Jeff Broomes, and as a trade unionist, I must speak out before they come for me. From the outset, let me state that I am not defending Broomes because I think that he is guiltless. In Barbados, everyone, even Jeff Broomes, is innocent until he pleads guilty or guilt is established after a duly constituted body makes that determination after hearing the evidence, and giving the accused the right to be heard. I am therefore concerned that the Public Service Commission (PSC) has taken steps against him, under the guise of a transfer, before it follows the rules in order to establish his guilt or innocence.

The Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) has achieved its goal of separating the Principal from Alexandra School; but they have nothing to rejoice about when you consider the way it was done. I hope that the membership of the union is sensible enough to condemn the method that was adopted by the PSC. BSTU should vociferously disassociate itself from the denial of due process to Mr. Broomes. Even murderers who kill in front of witnesses are given the right to be heard before sentence is pronounced. In essence, he has fewer rights than a murderer.

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Jeff Broomes TRANSFERRED – Alexandra Dispute Matter Revisited: The Waterman Report

The following is a critique of the Alexandra Inquiry matter by Senior Law Lecturer at the University of the West Indies Jeff Cumberbatch and a BU family member.

Senior Law Lecturer Jeff Cumberbatch - reproduced from the Barbados Advocate - 04 October 2009

Senior Law Lecturer Jeff Cumberbatch – reproduced from the Barbados Advocate – 04 October 2009

There is an English equivalent, but the French, in their own inimitable way, put it so much more elegantly: “Plus ça change, plus la même chose” – the more things change, the more they remain the same. This might have been the exact sentiment of more than a few objective bystanders after the public release of the report of the Waterman Commission of Inquiry into the Alexandra School. From all accounts, those who were, before the report – see WATERMAN REPORT, in favour of the censure of Mr. Jeff Broomes, the principal, for his alleged misdeeds, now feel a sense of vindication by the report that has recommended, inter alia, his “separation” from that institution. On the other hand, those who were firmly in his corner previously and of the view that he had done nothing wrong, have chosen to reject the commission’s findings in that regard. These opinions are to be expected. But what of the report itself? Has the commission really achieved its objective after the comparatively substantial sums spent on its production?

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Workers Misrepresentation, Who Benefits?

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Recently the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Dale Marshall, accused the National Union of Public Workers of playing politics. That caused me to reflect on the state of trade union representation in this country and wonder if the accusation was true for other unions. A comparison of the roles played by the unions during different political administrations would suggest that Marshall had justifiable reasons to come to his conclusion. During the DLP administration, you tend to get the impression that unions are bending over backward to accommodate the Government. When the BLP is in office, unions tend to be a bit more active which can be attributed to the fact that most union leaders appear to favour the DLP.

From inception workers have been complaining that the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) has not been acting in the best interest of workers, and that it has been used to keep workers quiet while the employers and Government, as the other members of the so called Social Partnership, gained at the expense of the workers. The list below which speaks for itself represents most of the major actors who played pivotal roles in the formation and continued existence of CTUSAB, and others who were active in their individual unions:

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The Silly Season Is Upon Us

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank/ Watchdog Group
Owen Arthur, Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley MP, Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart

Owen Arthur, Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley MP, Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart

The so-called silly season is upon us. Once more, sooner or later, Barbadians will elect a new BLP/DLP government. Or a new DLP/BLP government. It’s six of one and half dozen of the other.

We can predict that none of the manifestos will contain any of the following:

(a) Radical reform of the educational system and the abolishment of the elitist Eleven Plus Exam, which continues to condemn our children to the equivalent of social and economic gas chambers.

(b) Neither will contain the slightest reference to genuine worker/employee participation in company profits. We have mega businesses that either giving the workers peanuts or nothing at all in terms of real ownership.

(c) Neither will touch land reform that will guarantee perpetual state ownership by the citizens of Barbados. The BLP/DLP has sold our prime land to the highest bidders. On the other hand a few rich locals control most if not all arable land.

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Ministry of Education Summons BSTU To Hastily Arranged Meeting Which Provoked ‘The Letter’

Laurie King, Chief Education Officer

As promised BU produces the letter in its original form which the BSTU sent to the Chief Education Officer arising from a ‘secret meeting’ under his chairmanship. It does not matter how anyone tries to interpret the letter, to any competent person (counsel), the threat and inference is crystal clear. If one compares what is stated in the last paragraph of the letter attached to what was reported in the Nation today, “BSTU first vice-president Erskine Padmore said again yesterday that his members would resume work as scheduled pending the findings of the Waterman Commission Of Inquiry, set up to look into affairs at The Alexandra School.” The BU family can draw one sensible conclusion.

Can anyone explain anyway why the Chief Education Officer Laurie King held a secret meeting with the BSTU immediately following the COI – at a cost of $600,000.00 – which was expressly established to to make the AX Mess a transparent affair? Let us forget about the decision by Commissioner Waterman to hold the COI summations of counsel in camera.

BU raises AGAIN the question of conflict of interest by Keith Simmons, a member of the Public Service Commission – employer of those employed at Alexandra School – and also the chairman of the management committee of Alexandra School. When it was suggested to him by counsel that he was in conflict of interest in holding both those posts, he replied that he was not and if a conflict arose, he would recuse himself from one or the other. Why can’t he see his roles as being improper and that by holding both posts and being privy to confidential information from both, he is in conflict of interest? What manner of lawyer is entitled to wear silk in Barbados again?

  • See letter sent to Chief Education Officer Parts 1,2

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The AX Matter Moves To The Next Phase

Commissioner Frederick Waterman – Photo Credit: Nation

The final arguments from lawyers representing all parties in the Alexandra School Dispute have been submitted and Barbadians await the report from lone Commissioner Frederick Waterman. It is obviously the report will be delivered before the September school term begins.

There was a sense by BU during the last two weeks of the Inquiry that it was hurried along; and for an obvious reason. The  first school term is scheduled to begin on the 10 September 2012 and given known timelines the Waterman Report will be late. Therefore the 64k question is – what will be the next phase of the AX Affair?

It is early days yet to evaluate the performance of the Alexandra Commission. However, BU is concerned the Commissioner made some questionable decisions which will impact the quality of the final report.  For example, it is understood from our sources that the aunt of Miss X whom we reported on another blog the student in the transcript affair was to go to live in the USA to facilitate school there, was in Barbados and prepared to give evidence. BU understands she was seized with interesting bits of information as a result of her visit to the school to which Miss X was to attend and where the transcript was allegedly sent by the secretary. Our source has advised that she had proof no such transcript was received by the US school. A reasonable conclusion to be made, the transcript was never sent. We have been reliably advised that Commissioner Waterman refused to allow this witness to be called.

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Jeff Broomes to Hal Gollop, Hello?

Hal Gollop and Jeff Broomes, the men embroiled in the cellphone mystery

A little story reported by the Nation newspaper on August 15, 2012 under the headline ‘Cellphone mystery’ has not generated the public debate BU expected. The gist of the story is that several calls originating from the cellphone of Jeff Broomes, principal of Alexandra School, terminated on the phone of Hal Gollop, attorney-at-law for the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) last weekend. Both Broomes and Gollop are reported to be ‘mystified’ by what BU agrees was a very unusual occurrence.

Barbadians boast of a healthy Internet and mobile phone penetration which compares favourably to developed countries (In this regard we may accurately boast of attaining first world status). What is evident is that Barbadians have not demonstrated even cursory interest in the ‘backend’ which supports how information is managed by telecommunications companies in Barbados. What are the security protocols managed by LIME, Digicel, Telebarbados and others? To what degree is privacy of information respected and guaranteed? So many question can be asked but in Barbados we can be assured answers will not be easily forthcoming.

Remember Barbados is a country which boasts of being highly educated with a telecommunications infrastructure described as one of the best in this hemisphere.

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Notes From a Native Son: Alexandra School is a Metaphor for Failure of a System

Hal Austin

The crisis at Alexandra School, being played out before the nation, is but a reflection of the generally meltdown in education in Barbados. Although the Inquiry itself may be the public humiliation of a man, his stubbornness and the notorious Barbadian culture of spite and vindictiveness, the message it sends to the rest of the world is not a very nice one.

There are two broad reasons for this symptom of decline: first, the authorities have failed to make education as attractive professionally as law or medicine and, therefore, have not seen it necessary to spend a reasonable share of GDP on education, nor to attract the best graduates, because they do not appreciate its central importance in the future development of the nation.

Second, there is a traditional policy of promoting the longest serving and best connected person, rather than the most competent and best able. We must skip a generation in order to professionalise teaching. Following on from this is a lack of proper training provisions for teachers at all grades, and especially head teachers, who are not only the senior teachers in schools, but also the chief executive of the enterprise.

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Jeff Broomes Should Beg for Forgiveness

Submitted by Mahogany Coconut Think Tank/Watch Dog Group

Jeff Broomes, Principal of Alexandra School

From the very beginning, Mahogany Coconut had determined that Mr. Jeff Broomes should have been separated and or fired from the post of headmaster at the Alexandra School.

We need to root out professionals such as Broomes from all positions they hold in the public sector and quasi government organizations. They are the bad apples that rotten the whole barrel.

Everyday thousands of: teachers, firemen, policemen/women, sanitation workers, soil technicians, maids, parks and beaches workers and others, go to work and execute their tasks with great pride and gratitude.

However, we have hundreds of professionals such as Broomes, who with devilish accuracy, spend their time behaving like laws unto themselves, usually with the direct support of the decadent party system that now invades our beloved island state. These BLP/DLP yard fowls and assorted sycophants are bigger and deadlier threats to Barbados than any downgrade from Standard and Poor.

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The Alexandra School Commission Of Inquiry – Part II

Jeff Broomes, Headmaster of Alexandra School

The Alexandra School Commission of Inquiry continues to enjoy rap attention of Barbadians. In response to requests BU starts Part II of The Alexandra School Commission Of Inquiry to ensure commenters are not inconvenienced by the burgeoning comments.

The Parliament of Barbados voted today (24/07/2012) to allocate $598,000 to pay for the Inquiry.

The Alexandra School Commission Of Inquiry

Commissioner Frederick Waterman – Photo: Nation Newspaper

The Commission of Inquiry into the Alexandra School Affair has been fired up as promised by Prime Minister Stuart. It has become patently obviously if we recall events sparked by Hallam King at Coleridge Parry School that anomalies exist in the governance system  of education in Barbados which need to be fixed.

To the credit of Prime Minister Stuart he has kept part of his promise to Barbadians to start the Commission at the start of the Summer break. We look forward to Commissioner Frederick Waterman’s report and the decisive action which is needed to fix many of the problems exposed by the Alexandra matter.

Related Links:

Alexandra 2012 The Reincarnation Of Coleridge And Parry 1990

The person who submitted this article has asked that their name be withheld – Barbados Underground

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur

There are a number of conscientious Barbadians who take particular pains to ensure that they keep newspaper clippings. One such person made available to me a clipping from the WEEKEND NATION of FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 1990 which represents the recent and ongoing ALEXANDRA SCHOOL saga as nothing more than a reoccurrence of the events which plagued the COLERIDGE  AND PARRY SCHOOL during the Hallam King administration of that school. The difference this time is that former Prime Minister OWEN ARTHUR and his party seem to be presenting a different approach to the problem this time around which may even be regarded as HYPOCRITICAL.

The newspaper report sought to highlight the Board of Management’s refutation of Arthur’s claim that it was “PARTISAN”. This is what the report says:

The board responded Wednesday in a statement to comments made by Arthur, Barbados Labour Party representative for St Peter, who, on June 12 in the House of Assembly, described the board as a ” partisan one with partisan interests“.

The board’s statement read :

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The Alexandra Impasse Not 1-2-3 Fix

Jeff Broomes, headmaster of Alexandra School

In response to a BU query about the Alexandra matter which continues to simmer, the following  comment was made by a blogger.

“There is of course an obvious political element attached to the AX matter. But what of the other elements? Maybe the erroneous view was held that PHASE 2 would be the removal of Broomes by whatever means . Did you ever consider that the next phase was to get the PSC [Public Service Commission] activated to perform its constitutional function? There is now a new PSC in place. You however keep referring to the political element involved in these matters; let me suggest to you that there is ALSO A MORAL ELEMENT involved. Any good leader must see to it that, among other things, every effort is made to pass on VALUES to the society. Good leadership must not only be concerned with doing what at the time is EXPEDIENT; it must also be concerned with doing WHAT IS JUST. This would necessarily take me into a discussion on JUSTICE to which i shall return at some future convenient time …”

Rising concern about Alexandra comes against the background that Principal Jeff Broomes has excluded the 30 striking teachers from a “eight-day Easter Academy”, presumably to bring children affected by the strike up to speed. By his [Broomes] action he has buffed the teachers proposed plan to organize Easter classes. Clearly Principal Broomes by his actions is going against the spirit of compromise.

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Alexandra School – The Way Forward

The wonderful sight of teacher and pupil reunited at the Alexandra School - Photo credit Barbados Advocate

It was evident to the most discerning when the Alexandra School issue reared its head – Alexandra School Dispute – Who Shall Lead The Children? – that the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) had reached the end of its tether fuelled by how past grievances were managed by the ministry of education. Many Barbadians became outraged that the ministry of education would have allowed the Alexandra dispute to become so protracted, six years and counting. Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Trade Union who possesses an above average knowledge of the workings of the public service posited that the – Alexandra School Impasse: [was] A Massive Failure Of Public Service Administration. He produced the PUBLIC SERVICE ACT 2007 – 41 with Amendment to support his view.

In fact when the BSTU departed from the heavily trodden path of grievance procedure and withheld labour which resulted in 30 Alexandra teachers on the picket line, acute discernment was unnecessary as to what was required. When the BSTU mobilized around a cry for the separation of Principal Broomes from the school it was obvious Houston had a problem. If that was not enough to spur all concerned into action, information revealed last week that the ministry of education was in possession of an inspection document for several months only served to confirm the lethargy and incompetence with which the fractured industrial relations climate at Alexandra Secondary School was allowed to descend.

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The Alexandra Matter: The Role Of The CPO and NUPW

Dennis Clarke, General Secretary (l) Walter Maloney, President (r) NUPW 'Big Boys'

Nearly two weeks have passed since the BSTU instituted action against the principal of the Alexandra School Jeff Broome. Up to late yesterday [14 Jan 2012] there appeared to be no resolution to the matter. A meeting held under the chairmanship of Minister of Education Ronald Jones only served to proved BU’s position, management systems in Barbados have become seriously compromised as a result of incestuous practices by  stakeholders.

It is clear the BSTU Executive believes so strongly in their cause that they are prepared to disrupt the relatively calm industrial relations climate in Barbados even if the children have to be made to suffer in the process. Their position is further demonstrated by a deliberate move away from following ‘normal’ grievance procedure. Regrettably the matter is deliberately being waged in the court of public opinion. While there are advantages to enticing public support sometimes, it should be done based on the full facts of the matter being revealed. It is evident that the cause of the industrial action by the BSTU is as a result of grievances which have been poorly managed over the years and left to fester. The speech day incident appears to be the straw which broke the camel’s back.

If we are to believe the underground chatter there is more to the mortar than the pestle. If local media intends to give honest coverage to this matter the public deserves to be seized of relevant information. If this is not possible because of legal considerations then the honourable thing is to avoid inflammatory reports like those we have been reading in the NATION for the past week.

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Alexandra School Impasse: A Massive Failure Of Public Service Administration

By Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

The impasse featuring the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the Principal of Alexandra School, Mr. Jeff Broomes can only be characterized as a comedy of errors or rather a tragedy of incompetence on the part of the Ministry of Education and the Personnel Administration Division. Before I proceed, let me state that I am firmly behind the BSTU. Nonetheless, I will endeavour to be fair to all sides.

The BSTU is one of the oldest trade unions in Barbados, with a proud history of achievements on behalf of its members. In the recent past, it has been overshadowed by the younger and more partisan political Barbados Union of Teachers whose main achievements, in its relatively short history, seems to be positioning its executive officers for higher office in the Ministry of Education and now in Government. But for its constant wrangling with Jeff Broomes, the BSTU goes about its business, almost unnoticed by the public, in a calm and dignified manner.

On the other hand, Mr. Broomes, who has been able to mount a façade of caring for the children in his charge, continues to provoke controversy whenever he is out of the limelight for any extended period. He usually catapults himself to national notice by making statements that are calculated to be controversial, and then he invites reaction by saying things like, “Bring it on!” Rather than keep quiet in order to avoid an escalation of the current episode, he allowed himself to be quoted in the Nation saying that he would do it again. He is aware of what transpired when he made the offending statement the first time. Why would he do it again if not to enflame passions and call attention to himself? However, while he is basking in all the attention that he is receiving, the children that he loves and cares so much about that should be his focus are going without instruction at this crucial juncture.

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Alexandra School Dispute – Who Shall Lead The Children?

Submitted by Chuckles

Mary Redman, BSTU President

I would like to divert a bit and ask you [Caswell Franklyn] to make your services available to the BSTU/Mary Redman. What is this woman doing to the school children at the Alexandra School?

I was a member of the BWU for about 18 months before I left these shores to take up employment overseas. The first thing the Late Sir Frank Walcott told a group of new members of which I was one, was that the Union doesn’t go on strike until it gets public sympathy and support. Where did this woman do her trade-unionism training? A few weeks ago she was all over the news media trying to defend the indefensible i.e a teacher submitting SBA studies late to the CXC resulting in all the students failing the subject. Today teachers at the institution wouldn’t be in the classroom due to a dispute between her union members and the principal. The biggest Trade Union, NUPW isn’t backing her and from all reports the BUT members not losing a day’s pay over a non-issue.