Matthew says teachers threat to strike unreasonable


Antigua and Barbuda’s Education Minister, Daryll Matthew, has described as unreasonable a decision by the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers to take industrial action, if the government does not implement a 24-hour security system at all schools on the island by Tuesday.

“We have requested a meeting (on Monday) at 1:00 p.m. where we will sit and discuss and ventilate this matter. I think to suggest that by the drop of a dime the government can provide 24-hour security, irrespective of the costs to the taxpayers of the country. I think it is a really unreasonable and unrealistic request,” Mathew said.

Last Friday, the union’s president, Castro Charles, in a letter to the government warned that teachers would embark upon industrial action on Tuesday if the Gaston Browne administration failed to provide 24-hour security at all schools on the island no later than Monday.

The union said teachers have been more than accommodating in giving the government many opportunities to deal with the “reign of terror that is being imposed on us by vandals.

“We will be taking affirmative action if the appropriate interventions are not instituted immediately. According to our records, the period of September 5, 2022, to September 28, 2022, is marred with seven incidents of burglary and vandalism at both primary and secondary institutions,” the letter said

The ABUT said when these incidents occurred, teachers and even students are left with varying levels of frustration, anxiety, a decrease in morale, and loss of contact time while the perpetrators become increasingly emboldened to continue their onslaught on the country’s educational institution.

The union said over 90 percent of schools identified to receive 24-hour security are still waiting despite being given the assurance both verbally and in writing that 24-hour security will be instituted by September 15, 2022.

But Daryll Matthew said the government has always sought to ensure that there is security for all schools on the island and that teachers can conduct their tasks “in a safe and wholesome way.

“It is an extra burden on the taxpayers of this country that really ought not to be there,” the education minister said, noting members of the population should assume some responsibility for the ongoing security situation at the schools.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Browne, who has also described the teacher’s request as unreasonable, is urging them against taking industrial action on Tuesday.

“The letter was delivered after the close of business on Friday. The next business day is the 3rd, and they are saying they will take industrial action on the 4th…They have been critical of the government but at no point have they released a statement condemning the dastardly acts at which our schools have been vandalized, burnt, or burglarized, Prime Minister Browne said on his weekend radio program.

He said he believes that based on the frequency of these break-ins are orchestrated and politically motivated.

“We cannot afford it. We are spending about 15 million just providing security during the day. What we have said to them is that we will do is put security cameras in the schools, we said we will buy vaults to secure their valuables. We got Parcel Security to ensure security throughout the day so teachers and students are secured,” Browne added.

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  1. So there have been no daytime issues with the teachers and these crimes are committed at night but yet there’s no physical harm to the teachers .

    Why are teachers not essential workers in this society ?

  2. #Jumbee_Picknee says,
    Find solutions which are readily available. Pointing fingers with accusations only cause stagnation and will allow these kinds of problems to become worst.

  3. So Mr Matthew, the promise you made to teachers a month ago to have 24 HOURS security in all schools was just to fool the teachers, eh?
    You made a promise that you had no intention of fulfilling. Under the UPP there was 24 hour security. The ABLP got 2 billion from the CIP, what happen to that money?


  4. This is not just an unreasonable demand but also an illogical excuse for a reason to strike. I mean how silly can we get in the silly season. If it were a case of daytime robbery or threat against the schoolteachers in person, then I would say they have a point. But your place of work is vandalized and robbed, and you will strike because of that. I guess any shop that is robbed and vandalized, the workers should go on strike and demand 24-hour security for the shop. That is how foolish their argument is. We can all agree that the police should do a much better job. And if they need any help in the form of bodies or equipment, they should make their wishes known to the Cabinet. I’m not a criminal psychologist but the pattern of these breakings tells us a lot. These thieves are not looking for valuables or money. Or they would have gone elsewhere. And to defecate in a school on the floor or smear it on the wall is just making a statement. That is why we can call it politically motivated robbery. People who have an axe to grind. But I’m confident that sooner rather than later they will get caught. They have seen to move from preanal larceny to school breakings. An election year brings out the worst in people. They get desperate, and resort to all kinds of guerrilla tactics in order to turn the tides. The levelheaded people of this country will not fall for it. And to have security 24/7 at all government schools is absurd. Why is this not happening to private schools? Are government schools so special? Are they at higher risk because of the value they have stored in the school? Well, they need proper security advisors to look at each school and make recommendations for proper security improvements. Bodies alone will not do, neither will cameras alone. Thieves these days know that they will be caught on camera. That is why they wear masks. An Indian fellow told me once that the Indian society was facing lots of breakings, because they owned stores. They tried cameras and even dogs. But nothing works cause dogs were kills with guns or poison. Then they resorted to snakes. Many people don’t know but snakes are harmless, but they are the most feared creatures. Once the thieves encountered the snakes they ran for their lives and never returned. Just a thought. But let’s try the dogs first. Well trained guard dogs from the K9 Unit. The police can place them at night and pick them up in the morning before school opens. My dogs at home have been doing a great job for over 20 years. And I breed them myself. Pure German Shepherds. Daytime they are locked up, nighttime some are outside guarding, and some are inside the house.

    • Police again. The police can do so much on the little resources they are given. The government is not serious about crime fighting.

  5. despite being given the assurance both verbally and in writing that 24-hour security will be instituted by September 15, 2022.

    Me Garn

  6. This article states that the minister said that members of the community should assume some responsibility for the security of the schools. Really. Are we suppose to leave our homes and go and guard the schools at night. I will love to know what the minister means if he did say those words. This is one time I wish the author had quoted the minister so that I could know his exact words

    • Some years ago, when breakings were the order of the day, some citizens established community policing. This brought down crimes in some communities. The police, afraid of vigilante justice, interfered and gave guidance to these groups, but encouraged the establishment of these groups to help fight crime. Sadly enough, not to stereotype this, but these community groups were only successful in certain neighborhoods. Like Cedar Valley, Hodges Bay, Blue Waters, Fitches Creek, and some parts of English Harbour. I personally was afraid we would soon get a case of Trevon Martin on hand. As many of these community policing groups were headed by Caucasian Antiguans and Lebanese or Syrian descendants that as far as I have knowledge, are legal owners of firearms. Rather than to always look for the government to do things for us we need to learn to do things for ourselves. Crime is everyone’s business. If you see something say something. The police cannot solve crime without the help of the public. And the crime that these criminals portray is affecting our children. Therefore, we need to own up a bit to solving this problem. Unless we are OK with what our community is becoming. A gangster’s paradise. Good citizens need to stand up and fight together with the police for their community. The schools in the community form part of the community. If not, the government might as well close them and build schools in one area where they can easily monitor all of them. Too bad for your children if they must travel over one hour to get to school. My advice is, take ownership of the government schools in your community, and stop leaving everything up to the government alone to solve. You have as much interest in it.

  7. My question to the teacher is this. You guys and girls want 24/7 security. Let’s say you get 24/7 security, and the problem remains, or even gets worse. What will you then say and do? You think criminals just go away because you have more security? Perhaps they will change their tactics and start targeting your homes while you are at work. As I said yesterday, if workers in business places that are being burglarized and robbed strike and say that they will not work unless the business place gets 24/7 security, I think they would be fired forthwith.

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