Submitted by Yardbroom
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?
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 enough – Lao 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.
Posted in Barbados, Barbados Education, Barbados Media, Barbados News, Blogging
Tagged Alex, Alexandra Dispute, Alexandra Inquiry, Alexandra School, BSTU, Jeff Broomes, Public Service Commission
BSTU Consultant Patrick Frost
Sir Everton watching a cricket match on the weekend, Jeff Broomes was also in attendance.
Sir Roy warning LIME
New Alexandra head and deputy along with Karen Best, deputy chief education officer and Laurie King, Chief Education Officer
Leslie Lett and Amanda Greaves, key players in the AX dispute
Emergency CTUSAB Meeting
Minister Suckoo and Sir Roy, key players in the LIME/BWU dispute
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.
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.
Posted in Barbados Education, Barbados News, Blogging, Caribbean News, Fruendel Stuart
Tagged . Ronald Jones, Alexandra School, Alexcandra Report, AX, Barbados Union of Teachers, BSTU, BSTU/Mary Redman, BUT, Dennis Clarke, Education, Hal Gollop, Jeff Broomes, Karen Best, NUPW, Pedro Shepherd, Walter Maloney
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.
Posted in Barbados, Barbados Education, Barbados Government, Barbados News, Blogging
Tagged Alexandra Dispute, Alexandra School, Alexandra School Dispute, Frederick Waterman, Jeff Broomes, PSC, Public Service Commission, Public Service Commission of Barbados, Waterman Commission
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.
Posted in Barbados News, Blogging, Fruendel Stuart
Tagged Alexandra Dispute, Alexandra School, Alexandra School Dispute, Alexcandra Report, BSTU, BSTU/Mary Redman, Frederick Waterman, Gail Streat-Jules, Jeff Broomes, Public Service Commission
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
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?
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:
Posted in Barbados News, Blogging
Tagged . Ronald Jones, Bobby Morris, BWU, Cedric Murrell, CTUSAB, Dennis Depeiza, Derek Alleyne, Harry Husbands, Hartley Reid, Jeff Broomes, Joseph Goddard, Karen Best, Keith Yearwood, Leroy Trotman, NUPW, Patrick Frost, Walter Maloney
Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank/ Watchdog Group
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.
Posted in Barbados, Barbados Government, Barbados Labour Party, Blogging, Democratic Labour Party, Fruendel Stuart, Mia Mottley, Owen Arthur, Politics
Tagged Jeff Broomes, Leroy Parris, Power
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 Pa
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.
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.
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.