Alexandra Solution or Confusion?

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me – Pastor Martin Niemoeller

They have come for Jeff Broomes, and as a trade unionist, I must speak out before they come for me. From the outset, let me state that I am not defending Broomes because I think that he is guiltless. In Barbados, everyone, even Jeff Broomes, is innocent until he pleads guilty or guilt is established after a duly constituted body makes that determination after hearing the evidence, and giving the accused the right to be heard. I am therefore concerned that the Public Service Commission (PSC) has taken steps against him, under the guise of a transfer, before it follows the rules in order to establish his guilt or innocence.

The Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) has achieved its goal of separating the Principal from Alexandra School; but they have nothing to rejoice about when you consider the way it was done. I hope that the membership of the union is sensible enough to condemn the method that was adopted by the PSC. BSTU should vociferously disassociate itself from the denial of due process to Mr. Broomes. Even murderers who kill in front of witnesses are given the right to be heard before sentence is pronounced. In essence, he has fewer rights than a murderer.

The PSC is supposed to be an independent body charged with the responsibility of making appointments and exercising disciplinary control over members of the Public Service. Its power and procedures are set out in the Constitution, the Public Service Act and regulations. It does not have the right to act on the recommendations of any body that is not authorized by those pieces of legislation. It certainly cannot hold a straight face and expect to convince the country that it acted independently of the recommendations of the Waterman Commission into the affairs of the Alexandra School. Mr. Waterman clearly stated that these matters should be investigated by the PSC. I do not pretend to be all knowing, but I am not aware of any investigation by the PSC that would have authorized it to act against Broomes and inflict collateral damage on other innocent public officers.

The PSC could not be so naïve as to believe that by transferring Broomes and a number of others that it has resolved anything. Its actions have only served to give the Government the opportunity to call the elections in a period of industrial peace because the teachers would not be on strike. However, if the BSTU is worth its salt, it would move with all deliberate speed to be seen to protect the rights of its shop steward, Mrs. Gail Streat-Jules. She was acting on behalf of the union and has been adversely affected in her employment as a consequence. At the very least, BSTU should report the PSC to the Police for breaching section 40A of the Trade Union Act. If the Police fails to act, the union should institute a private prosecution against the PSC. The immunities granted to service commissions by section 106 of the Constitution does not appear to extend to conduct that might appear to be criminal. And section 40A makes it an offence, punishable by a fine or imprisonment or both, for an employer to dismiss or adversely affect an employee for taking part in trade union activity.

That might only be the beginning of the legal troubles for the PSC. Remember it has acted against Jeff Broomes without giving him an opportunity to be heard. It would be completely out of character for him to meekly accept punishment by whatever name called for peace sake. He is now the victim, but this matter is bigger than him. Every right thinking person in this country should find the behaviour of the PSC to be offensive: it should not be seen to be trying to circumvent the rules. Luckily, Broomes has options, and he finds himself uniquely placed not only to defend his rights, but to establish standards and procedures which will serve as precedence to guide future service commissions.

I now find myself in the uncomfortable position of advising Jeff Broomes: I consider him to be the villain in the Alexandra matter, but even villains have rights that must be protected. My advice to him would be to institute proceedings in the High Court for a judicial review of the actions of the PSC. He has more than enough grounds for seeking relief, but I will only quote a few from the Administrative Justice Act, namely: breach of the principles of natural justice; acting on instructions from an unauthorized person; and failure to satisfy or observe conditions or procedures required by law.

The BSTU should not be happy to have achieved its goal of separating the Principal from the school at this cost. I cannot be so shortsighted to believe that removing Jeff Broomes by any means necessary is okay. What will be their position when something similar happens to one of their members that they consider to be innocent?

Finally, my advice to the Public Service Commission is simple, resign before you do further damage to the institution called the Public Service.

0 responses to “Alexandra Solution or Confusion?

  1. To The Point

    @Sargent

    I think u should stick to what u said u know, how to gmble on the stock exchange. The issues here are too complex for u to understnad, hence ur tivialization of the,

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  2. To The Point

    I would not say that hal is missing, he never understood the issues. There are very few lawyers who undertans administrative law, why u think they pay caswell to advise them when have to go to court with such a matter. Caswell i Lie?

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  3. Observing(...)

    @fed up
    Get your facts correct. Gittens is not the President.

    @can’t wait and apollo
    Bstu has no rational, reasonable, legal, procedural or collegial leg to stand on. Also, no signature is necessary to invoke a transfer

    @all re. Hal Gollop.
    I vaguely remember commenting on this role of this character in the plot of the whole saga back in January. Being right doesn’t always bring joy

    @TTP
    You are slicing and dicing on this one. Lol.

    @all who are making this purely political
    The politics of this saga are no longer be national. The DLP will not get any further fallout based on the action taken and the BLP can only be blamed so much. We’re wasting our breath there. The true political impact is “parochial and local.” Let’s see if the non-politicians can make use of politics and crisis management 101 to theirs and everyone’s benefit.

    I’ll reserve comment on the specifics (Jordan, Hal, Redman, Best, King etc.) til the first curtain has been drawn, but, I can safely and conclusively say that the biggest overall losers are the BSTU, Redman and co.

    Hands down.

    Just Observing

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  4. Observing(…) wrote “but, I can safely and conclusively say that the biggest overall losers are the BSTU, Redman and co.

    Lose what? All these middle class persons will lose is pride if they have any.

    There are no “penalties” for foolish actions and mismanagement in Barbados.

    Not one of them will be looking for a job anytime soon.

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  5. @Observing

    Accepted. President of BUT is Pedro Shepherd. my error.

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  6. Caswell Franklyn

    Observing

    The BSTU would be the biggest losers if they allow themselves to be treated in this manner. What has happened is a puerile attempt at union-busting on the part of the Public Service Commission. It scattered the members of BSTU at Alexandra to the wind in the hope that they would be unable to garner enough support from their wider membership to sustain any industrial action.

    I have no proof but I feel that it is a sinister attempt to destroy BSTU. After the industrial action at Alexandra, many members defected from BUT and this is payback. You should note that some of the faceless people in this transfer conundrum would be Karen Best, Deputy Chief Education Officer and former President of BUT, and David Bowen, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, former Deputy General Secretary of NUPW. You should realise that it is in the interest of the present Government to ensure the survival of this DLP union.

    To my mind, they are ensuring that BUT survives because judging from its performance in representing the workers’ cause; they should be out of business. It would be interesting to see how many BUT executive members become principals in this current round of interviews.
    Sent from my iPad

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  7. Observing(...)

    @hants
    “All those middle class persons will lose is their pride, if they have any”

    Isn’t that a loss? Lol
    . And for the record, some losses are neither tangible nor visible…but can be internally catastrophic!

    For transparency I should have also mentioned Justice Frederick Waterman as a close 2nd place in “the biggest loser” category.

    @fedup
    Errors lead to learning. Acceptance leads to growth! Blog on! :)

    Observing

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  8. Well said Caswell in your article posted at 9:15 pm. Call out the troops BSTU. We need another 1937 riots bout’ here.

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  9. Observing(...)

    @caswell
    You’re really hoping and wishing. The BSTU has been checked and are slowly moving towards check-mate. Irony is that they started the game and now their own strategy has been clinically applied on them.

    “I have no proof”
    Hmmmmm, where have I heard this from you before? Lol!!!

    Just Observing

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  10. David

    To add to the confusion, I am told that a French teacher was transferred from Alexandra to Deighton Griffith School where French is not taught. If this is really so, it would support my assertion that the Public Service Commission would have acted for reasons other than the best interests of the students at Alexandra School. They should do the decent thing and resign post haste.

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  11. To The Point

    @Caswell

    stop the talk about Union busting. Thats foolishness. Mary Redman got a dose of her own medicine. Let them use the law courts. If they resort to stike as a result of the transfers, they should be disciplined. Use the avenue for grievance handling, but they ccannot hold the country to ransom, as they would not get sympathy from the public.

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  12. @Caswell

    Maybe French is to be added to the Curriculum?

    What it shows, if true, is that the decision to select the transferees leaves room for improvement.

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  13. Caswell Franklyn

    David

    If they are starting French at Deighton Griffith School, the PSC would be the last to find out. They don’t make curriculum changes. It is not their responsibility.

    Alexandra is now BUT school. Even the PSC seems part of the conspiracy to destroy BSTU. You should realise that the former BUT President is now the Deputy Chief Education Officer with responsibility for schools and is ideally placed to assist in the destruction of BSTU.

    BSTU does not appear to be politically aligned so they must be destroyed. If the DLP does not control it then it has to go.

    Sent from my iPad

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  14. Caswell don’t come with the Union busting b e.

    This is a case of power going to the heads of incompetents.

    The only people who should have been moved from Alexandra are Broomes (transfered),Greaves (transfered) and Broomes cousin(fired).

    The only winners in this fiasco are the Lawyers.

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  15. Lime has just laid off 97 Barbadians. My understanding is that Cave Shepherd and Courts are next. What the hell is happening in this country so early in the new year.

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  16. Get out the popcorn, Oh Henry and Soda. The real movie starts next week with Mary Redman and the MOE and by extension the Government of Barbados.

    Like

  17. islandgal246

    @Can’t wait….popcorn in the microwave, and fresh passion fruit juice in the chiller.

    Like

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