A few minutes later, Minister of Education Patrick Faber spoke to the media. He seemed to have put some of the blame on the media for the bruised relationship with the BNTU. Blame aside, Faber says the ministry and the union have both committed to solving the issues.
Minister of Education Patrick Faber: “The meetings today were just to decide on how we would move forward so we have not gotten into the details any just yet. We have agreed that we will have a meeting with the BNTU to discuss the categorization activity for hardship allowances and we will also be discussing the issues that are outstanding for proposal 22 which was never really an issue. The two issues that are outstanding as you may know are the issue having to do with the four propertoship schools whether they want to remain as community schools or whether they want to come under the government’s ownership so we discussed a way forward. We formed a little committee to deal with that issue and then the other issue is having to deal with the 30% coming from denominational and community schools aswell that are not forthcoming for some of the past employees who are relying on their benefits of pension and gratuity so in effect what has happened a very long time ago is that we agreed that we would support the teachers in their quest to try to get those Managements to pay their commitment which is their agreement, their original agreement so we will give the Union and the teachers support in doing that, so that was always what it was. I think there was some misunderstanding in terms when I said it is not a live issue is because we had already agreed to these issues and so we just confirm that, that is the position today and then on the matter of commuting allowances, well we discuss those and where it is that the teachers had in some kind of application and it could be proven weather in some cases it did not reach the Ministry. It probably got to the management and the management did not submit those that we have agreed to honor those so again we had a very cordial meeting, we were able to address all of these issues. In fact I believe that it was always that we could always have sit down and discuss these issues. I think where we went wrong is that and I will blame the media here, you come and you ask sometimes, you said this one say that and that one say that and it stirs up the mud and really we are not at a position where can’t sit down at the table and talk so we absolutely had that discussion today and I reiterated to the Union my own commitment but also the commitment of my Senior management team to resolve these issues whenever they come up without having to jostle on the media.”
Minister Faber said these discussions about hardship allowances and the categorization of hardship allowances have nothing to do with the wider negotiations on collective bargaining negotiations that are ongoing.