As we mentioned earlier, the BNTU and the Education Minister were to meet to discuss the ministry’s proposal to have the teachers’ strike fund used to pay the teachers who went on strike as well as the possibilities of having teachers make up the time lost in the classroom. BNTU’s President, Luke Palacio refused to meet with Minister Faber unless his twenty five representatives were able to sit in the meeting; that condition was countered by Minister Faber, who gave us his reasoning behind that decision.
“Well let me say that Mr. Palacio has never indicated to me officially in writing that the strike fund cannot be used. Mr. Palacio and I exchanged emails several times in the course of the last week and a half but at no point did he say to me in any of those correspondences that the strike fund monies cannot be used. I merely learned about that via the various interviews that he gave with the press. The only thing he said to me in the emails is that he was insistent on the 25 members of the council of management coming to the meeting to discuss how the teachers could be paid using the strike fund and government resources as well as for us to start talking about the make-up time and asking for support from the teachers and from the union in terms of making up the time. That meeting as you know has not panned out simply because they insist. I’ve heard Mr. Palacio say that we have engaged several times with the 25 members of course he touts that the Prime Minister met with the entire council of management well if we want to be honest the BNTU in fact has an executive not made up of 25 people. Every single time from since the union has been engaged with the Ministry when the union officials come to engage with us they don’t bring 25 members they come with the president and the general secretary Mr. Frazer they brought maybe the secretary from the executive, they didn’t bring the entire council of management. In the collective bargaining negotiations that recently finished those negotiations did not happen with 25 members of the council of management they happened with just the general secretary, the president and maybe one or two other people coming to the meeting. So to say that the only form of the BNTU that could engage in negotiations is the entire 25 members which is unwieldy is ridiculous and I hope people understand why I refuse to do that.”
Minister Faber went on to say that while he was not willing to meet with the twenty five members as proposed by Palacio, he did say that he was willing to give the process time for proper consultation.
“If people would check my communication with Mr. Palacio you would see that I was careful to say to him that we would be patient. If it is that after his meeting with us with the smaller number of people he would need the time to then go back and consult, as I know is the practice, then go back and consult with the council of management that would be fine with me. I made sure that I said that in the emails and you can check that for the record. So I’m not sure that Mr. Palacio and the BNTU council of management were really acting in good faith when in fact they accepted the invitation to come to such a meeting but I’ll tell people that I am sorry but I did not see that kind of a meeting with 25 plus our people a meeting of about 30 or more people being at all very efficient and productive.”
Up to newstime tonight, there has been no further communication from Palacio to the ministry.