“Unnecessary”. That is how Prime Minister Gaston Browne has described a decision by teachers to withdraw their services for two weeks.
Members of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers ended their industrial action on Thursday after sitting in to negotiate school security, ex gratia payments, teacher upgrade payments, and talks over a new collective bargaining agreement.
While Browne, has welcomed the teacher’s return to classrooms, he said their industrial action was unnecessary.
Browne told State Media that he is also concerned about the impact of the teacher’s absence from the classrooms during the period.
“I found that the industrial action was unnecessary. We would have agreed to implement literally everything that they asked for, even the increase which went beyond what we’re willing to offer. We agreed, and there’s really no need.
“They would have compromised our students to some extent. No matter what they say, no matter how they try to couch it. You’re talking about almost two weeks less of contact time, especially for those who will be facing exams within a matter of weeks. And they could have achieved the same objective without taking such harsh and potentially destructive action,” Browne added.
All this comes as Representatives of the A&BUT said on Thursday that its decision to suspend the industrial action was a gesture of “good faith”
A&BUT’s President Casroy Charles did say that it was a difficult but necessary decision to sit in for several days
“It is always difficult to embark on industrial action because members could have a difference of opinion, and each day as the action unfolds something will pop up where persons become fearful, or they may become more comfortable with the action.
“As a union, we must ensure that we monitor the process, so it is done correctly and retains the traction that we had from the commencement,” Charles said.
The government was forced to extend the Easter Holidays to negotiate and resolve teachers’ concerns