In response to TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai’s call to teachers to boycott classes as a show of solidarity for the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU), Minister of Education Anthony Garcia says the matter was discussed at length at a Cabinet meeting last Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference held yesterday at the Education Towers on St Vincent Street, Garcia said Cabinet had directed Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to research the laws and all other necessary bits of legislation relevant to public service.
They include the Education Act; Civil Service Act; Industrial Relations Act; Teaching Service Regulations Commission and the Public Service Commission Regulations that have been adopted full scale by the Teaching Service Commission.
“We have also been asked again to liaise with the Chief Personnel Officer, with respect to terms and conditions with service,” said Garcia.
He said in-house, the ministry had its own legal department from which it is currently receiving advice and that advice will be used together with the advice from the Attorney General to guide any course of action going forward.
“One of the things that came out of the discussion at the level of Cabinet is the fact that when TTUTA said publicly that they’re asking teachers to stay home as a mark of support to the OWTU, that can be construed as calling a ‘sympathy’ strike, which is another area that the Attorney General is looking at,” Garcia said.
He said he spoke with Al-Rawi yesterday morning and was assured that by tomorrow he would have in his hands the response to the request made by Cabinet.
‘PUT CHILDREN FIRST’
Weighing in on the matter, president of the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) Raffiena Ali-Boodoosingh said children were already losing too much teaching time for several reasons and it works negatively for them.
“Yes, we know that teachers would want to be in solidarity with other workers but at the same time, we have to look at what signals we are sending to our children,” Ali-Boodoosingh said.
She said on one hand we are saying protesting is not always the right course of action and that useful dialogue and communication are better at coming to a consensus. On the other hand, however, children are witnessing leaders in the public eye doing differently.
“It is the first week of school, children are anxious to go to school. And come Friday, you are telling students don’t come to school, teachers are not coming to school.”
She said the theme of NPTA this year was titled Putting Children First: Save The Nation.