We won’t tol­er­ate union-bust­ing, Speid warns Mona High prin­ci­pal

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Leon Jack­son/Gleaner Writer

WEST­ERN BUREAU:

OUT­SPO­KEN PRES­I­DENT of the Ja­maica Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (JTA) Owen Speid and prin­ci­pal, Keven Jones, are em­broiled in a war of wills, with the school ad­min­is­tra­tor ac­cused of union-bust­ing.

Speid claims that the teach­ers’ union has been de­nied ac­cess to Mona High School twice - the lat­est failed at­tempt being on Tues­day.

How­ever, Speid, who is him­self a school prin­ci­pal, said that when he and other JTA of­fi­cials turned up at the school, they were not al­lowed in. Jones had been pre­vi­ously alerted to the visit last Fri­day, Speid said.

“When my team and I ar­rived, he sent a let­ter in which he claimed that we could not be ac­com­mo­dated be­cause he was in­volved in other school mat­ters and would not be able to tour with us,” said Speid.

“This is tan­ta­mount to union-bust­ing, and prin­ci­pals of schools through­out Ja­maica must be in­formed that this kind of be­hav­iour can­not be tol­er­ated.”

In out­lin­ing the JTA’s right to be granted ac­cess to schools, Speid said that Jones had an obli­ga­tion to al­low vis­its to the work­places of its mem­bers.

The JTA pres­i­dent em­pha­sised that he should be treated with cour­tesy.

“I am sure a prin­ci­pal would not deny a mem­ber of par­lia­ment from vis­it­ing a school in his con­stituency,” added Speid.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTH­ING

How­ever, Jones re­jected Speid’s as­ser­tion of union-bust­ing as an over­re­ac­tion or much ado about noth­ing.

“I wrote an email to in­form him that he could be ac­com­mo­dated on June 15. De­spite this, he ar­rived with his team to tour the school,” said Jones, who said he had no ob­jec­tion to en­ter­tain­ing JTA rep­re­sen­ta­tives at his school.

Jones also rub­bished Speid’s claim that a pre­vi­ous run-in back in Septem­ber 2019 was an at­tempt at union-bust­ing, ar­gu­ing that the JTA’s visit was too early in the morn­ing.

“On that oc­ca­sion, he ar­rived at 6:39 a.m. No­body was there to al­low him en­trance. It was not any form of union-bust­ing,” said Jones.

Speid has been vis­it­ing schools since the Gov­ern­ment an­nounced that schools were go­ing to be re­opened on June 8 to fa­cil­i­tate stu­dents sit­ting ex­ter­nal ex­am­i­na­tions. The vis­its are to en­sure that the schools meet the COVID-19 health and safety pro­to­cols.

“(On Tues­day) I vis­ited six other schools, and only Mona High pre­vented us from tour­ing,” said Speid.

“We (JTA) have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to look af­ter the in­ter­ests of teach­ers, and no union-bust­ing is go­ing to pre­vent us from car­ry­ing out our man­date.”

Speid was re­cently crit­i­cised by the Rev­erend Claude El­lis, prin­ci­pal of Pem­broke Hall High School in St An­drew.

“I am beg­ging for some qual­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tion from my union. I don’t need only a watch­dog to crit­i­cise ev­ery­thing that is being done, but a union with rec­om­men­da­tions and an­swers,” El­lis said in a Gleaner op-ed.

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