By anguillian January 25, 2013 09:46



ATU President, Emma Ferguson addressing teachers

The President of the Anguilla Teachers’ Union, Emma Ferguson, has written to Chief Minister Hubert Hughes, copied to other Government officials, requesting a public apology to teachers for derogatory remarks made against them in the House of Assembly on January 15. The remarks followed the start of a sit-in by teachers.

The letter, dated Friday, January 18, was delivered on that afternoon and demanded apologies not only from Chief Minister Hughes, but also from Minister of Home Affairs, Walcott Richardson, Jerome Roberts, Adviser to the Chief Minister. and Parliamentary Secretary, Haydn Hughes – The letter read as follows:-

Teachers and members of the public

Dear Mr Hughes:
The Anguilla Teachers’ Union writes to express its utter dissatisfaction with the derogative remarks that you made about teachers during the sitting of the House of Assembly on 15th January 2013.

Among these remarks, your description of us as being “most ridiculous”, and your insinuations that our leadership in the classroom is molding a generation of unstable children, are irresponsible, callous and insulting not only to teachers, but to parents, children, and the wider community.

Other members of the House also displayed similar behaviour, whichwe treat with contempt. We strongly believe that individually and collectively, your behaviour surmounts to gross disrespect, and furthermore, is a mockery of the offices you hold as leaders of Anguilla. We vehemently condemn such!

Teachers and members of the public at interactive meeting

We therefore request a public apology from you and the following persons: Hon Walcott Richardson, Hon Jerome Roberts and Hon Haydn Hughes, to be made to all teachers, and by extension, the general public of Anguilla before or during the next sitting of the House of Assembly.

Yours sincerely,
Emma Ferguson
Anguilla Teachers’ Union

Teachers and the general public await these apologies.

The letter followed an emergency meeting on Thursday evening, January 17, at the Rodney MacAthur Rey Auditorium, attended by well over 300 persons comprising teachers, parents and other members of civil society.
A press release issued by the Teachers’ Union stated that the meeting was held following three days of industrial action in the form of a sit-in for three main reasons.

Teachers and members of the public at interactive meeting

The first was to inform the public about the true reasons for the sit-in and to dispel the propaganda that had been circulating within the community, especially by leading reporters, radio personalities and talk show hosts.

The second was to report on the outcomes of a meeting between the Anguilla Teachers’ Union and Government officials earlier that day (Thursday 17 January 2013).

The third reason was to sensitise the public about the gross disrespect meted out to teachers, and the indignities they suffered as a result of the reckless, inflammatory and demeaning statements made about them by the Chief Minister and other government officials in the House of Assembly and in other fora.

President Emma Ferguson spoke passionately about the issues at hand. She made it abundantly clear that the teachers’ sit-in was NOT because they were demanding immediate payment of monies, BUT that it was due to government’s utter disrespect and disregard for their efforts at seeking clarification on the issues of monies owed to them. It was emphasised that nowhere, in any of their written or other forms of communications to government, did the Union request or demand that teachers be paid NOW.

The teachers charged that the Government had been failing to respond to letters from the Union as well as to many telephone calls made by the Union’s President. They said that on the very few occasions when the Union managed to secure a listening ear with Government, the meetings were spent in fruitless dialogue, resulting only in complicating matters. For the most part, the Chief Minister rambled on about other issues that had nothing to do with the concerns of civil servants, teachers included. This served to aggravate teachers as, on all occasions, they felt that their time was wasted.

Reporters were told, in the press release, that the meeting at the Rodney Rey Auditotirum also showed distaste for the negative and scornful remarks about non-Anguillian teachers. The meeting therefore called on Chief Minister Hughes, Walcott Richardson, Jerome Roberts and Haydn Hughes to publicly apologise to the teachers. The solidarity was further shown by many persons who signed a note which read as follows:

Dear Honourable Chief Minister:
I join with the Anguilla Teachers’ Union (ATU) in requesting that a public apology be made to the members of the teaching profession.
I disagree with the way they were publicly humiliated and insulted n the House of Assembly on Tuesday 15 January, 2013.
I recognise that teaching is a noble profession and should be respected.

Meanwhile, in another press release, the President of the Teachers’ Union stated that she, along with her team, were able to successfully negotiate with officials in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.

She wished “on behalf of the teaching fraternity to thank the Hon Minister of Education, Mr Edison Baird, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development, Mrs Chanelle Petty Barrett, Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Foster Rogers and Dr. Aidan Harrigan, for helping to bring about a resolution of the issues.”

The teachers returned to their classrooms on Friday, 18th January, 2013.

By anguillian January 25, 2013 09:46


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