Education Minister Cole Simons met with Executive members of the Bermuda Union of Teachers (BUT), Trustees and teachers from primary, middle and senior schools today to discuss their concerns following “a large protest by BUT members this morning on the grounds of the Cabinet Office”.
A spokesperson said the Minister “first learned of the protest action around 10am this morning and immediately asked for a meeting with the BUT Executive and those gathered on the grounds”. But he was advised by the BUT President to meet at the union’s headquarters. That meeting was held within 20 minutes of the union’s invitation.
In a statement released this evening, the Minister said: “It was important for me as Minister to hear the concerns of the teachers and determine what can be done to address their concerns. Hence, I made myself available on short notice to attend the meeting, which got underway around midday and lasted for about an hour or so.
“The main concern that was expressed to me by the BUT was the lack of substantial progress in the contract negotiations between the BUT and the Public Service Negotiating Team (PSNT). The BUT indicated that there has not been any meaningful progress since the last meeting between the two sides during the third week of March 2017.
“Although I am not involved in contract negotiations, I undertook to update the Premier on the BUTs concerns so that it could be determined why no meeting has occurred between the two sides since March,” he said. “It is important and in everyone’s interest that we get negotiations back on track, especially since I consider that our teachers are our number one asset,” he added.
Meanwhile, Education Commissioner Dr Freddie Evans announced that the Harrington Sound Primary School building will be closed on Friday, May 26th. Students are asked to report to Albouy’s Point tomorrow morning.
A spokesperson said: “The Department of Education can report that although no further evidence of bird mites has been found at Harrington Sound Primary School, in an abundance of caution the school facilities will be undergoing some internal cleaning and structural work tomorrow. As a result, the school building will remain closed tomorrow (Friday, 26 May).”
Dr Evans said: “We are notifying parents of the decision to close the building tomorrow. We do have a school wide plan for tomorrow – Friday, may 26th. We are asking all students to meet their teachers at Albuoy’s Point Park in Hamiltion for 8:30am where registration will be taken. Students should be in their school uniform.
“Students and their teachers will travel by ferry to Dockyard for the day. Parents are to pick up their students from Albuoy’s Point Park between 2:30pm – 3pm (no later than 3:30pm),” he added.
It was also noted that further updates regarding the school will be shared with parents and notices posted on www.gov.bm.