Bermuda Teachers Union Vote To ‘Work To Rule’

June 21, 2017

[Updated] The Bermuda Union of Teacher [BUT] is holding an “Emergency Membership Meeting” this morning [June 21] at the St. Paul A.M.E. Centennial Hall, with members urged to attend, with the poster saying “your input is vital.”

BUT Bermuda June 2017

Update 12.41pm: Don Burgess reports

The Bermuda Union of Teachers voted unanimously for ‘action’ this morning saying Government backpedaled on three issues previously agreed to. As education is not deemed an essential service, the Union does not have to give a 21-day strike notice so it can come at any point the BUT decides. The BUT also voted by a simple majority to ‘work to rule.’

Around 300 teachers filled St. Paul AME’s Centennial Hall this morning for a meeting that started at 8:30.

BUT president Shannon James said there were three issues agreed to by the Union and the Ministry of Education at a March 21 meeting, but since then, the BUT have received a letter from the Ministry saying those issues are still on the table.

He said: “When you negotiate and you come to the table, the basic premise is your word is your bond. You’re negotiating in good faith so when you leave the table, the things you have agreed on, you know you have agreed to those things. For the ministry to come out and roll back on that agreement is an insult to the process…and a direct insult to us who have been active participants at the table.”

One of the three issues involves scale posts. That is where a teacher has extra responsibilities where they might be the science or language arts coordinator to ensure that the science or language arts objectives are being pushed.

Mr. James said “They are supposed to give support to other teachers, but for the past two years the Ministry has approached us to some amendments to the scale posts and we’ve had to say no because there was no proper discussion on it so we’ve had to roll over it for two years on a three-year contract.”

He said in order to solve the issue, there was a two-day session “at Workforce Development and we hashed it out on March 21st.”

A second issue involves the teaching deputy principals at the primary schools.

“It’s hard for them to be a full-time teacher and to be a deputy principal at the same time,” Mr. James said. “The deputy primary school principals have a very full plate in teaching and being a deputy. If the principal is out, the deputy still has to teach and fill in for the principal.”

He said an agreement was reached it was best for the system and best for Bermuda’s students on non-teaching deputies at the primary school level.

He said a message from the Ministry said: “it should be reviewed, it is their position not to discuss staffing levels.”

The third issue BUT said was agreed to was that the words ‘modern and relevant’ would be added to the Preamble of the collective bargaining agreement.

A letter from the Ministry stated “that the inclusion of modern and relevant in the Preamble is unacceptable” but is willing to consider alternative language.

Mr. James asked “How can they say ‘no’? They don’t want children to have modern and relevant education? We’re not satisfied with no. At least give us a reason why it is no or give us some different language.”

Mr. James said that could include issues as WiFi in the classrooms, but could also include working computers, 3D printers and coding and everything we need to take our children to this next unchartered territory.

The teachers will be working to rule which basically means they will not be performing any duties outside of their written contract which may include field trips, lunch duties, prizegivings or bus duties if it involves working past their 3pm or 3:30pm knock off times.

Update 4.19pm: A PLP spokesperson said, “The Progressive Labour Party is disappointed to hear that the failed OBA government is playing politics with our teachers. The news that the OBA walked back on their commitments to our teachers is beyond the pale.

“Our teachers need support, not broken promises. Our teachers need services that will help them better educate our students including resources, but, also specialized training and certification opportunities and resources to advance their careers and better serve our students.

“The OBA has forgotten our public schools. Their deep cuts to the public education budget has resulted in teachers being mistreated, but, also mould and vermin in our schools. Bermuda can do better than an OBA government that plays musical chairs with the Education Minister, breaks promises to our teachers and cuts financial aid for our students seeking higher education.”

The 2017 Education Agenda follow below [PDF here]:

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Comments (37)

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  1. Family Man says:

    Maybe the meeting is to discuss what their slogan means “Education For Responsibility”.

    • When people overseas gather or protest its for a good cause, but in Bermuda its always opposed by a certain segment of society.

      • bdaboy says:

        “When people overseas gather or protest its for a good cause, but in Bermuda its always opposed by a certain segment of society.”

        Oh poor stupid oj, the reason for this is because certain bermudians don’t know how to behave like humans, and protest everything they’re told to, without any critical thought….like you…you simply spew whatever pops into your stupid little head, revealing your true self every time. You’re a racist, bigot, full of toxic hatred.

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    And here I was thinking that teachers were supposed to give 21 days notice of a work stoppage. Silly me.

    • Caitlyn says:

      sadly though some real, dont know “work to rule” means.Some went to meeting then headed to Americas Cup Village with their class room.WORK TO RULE!

  3. Kiskadee says:

    Do teachers ever think of their students and how they are upsetting parents ? School is out in two weeks . Could they not have waited till then?
    Looks like they are just trying to stir up trouble .

  4. Joe says:

    wait a few months the PLP gonna fix all your issues

    • Caitlyn says:

      rThere wont be any work to rule then, everything will be just peachy!

  5. hmmm says:

    The teachers may have genuine concerns or issues that need to be addressed by the Department of Education.

    I would also hope that accountability of teachers performance is addressed. The poor teachers are giving the good ones a bad reputation.
    We need good educators for our children.

    • Caitlyn says:

      I agree 100%.Not all but some teachers need to go.The dept has a habit when there is a bad teacher have the teacher moved to another school, just moving the problem and not addressing the issue.

  6. Concerned says:

    So tell me who is with the children when these meetings are held during school hours??? I’m 100% for communication and action for improvements don’t get me wrong…

  7. wahoo says:


  8. Branch says:

    Let’s be clear – this is a civil service issue, not a Government issue. If the civil service branch responsible for school maintenance are unable to do their job, then get rid of them and get someone in who can.

    • parent says:

      That’s the problem there they are not held accountable

  9. Joe Bloggs says:

    The Bermuda Union of Teachers have voted to work to rule immediately and voted to give notice of action which will remain in place until the union executive gives further notice. I expect that to be after the election. The issue surrounds something said in March and which the BUT took to be a solemn promise of a done deal and which the Government took to be an assurance the matter would be considered. One would have though any solemn promise or agreement would be put down in writing.

    • frank says:

      This guy Charles always seems to be angry about
      Something all the time.
      Maybe he should go back to where he came from

  10. A Chap called V says:

    Many of the requests are reasonable, but it is hard to take them seriously if they don’t feel they owe the students and parents the decency of some notice.

    That in itself speaks volumes as to why public education is the way it is here.

  11. DarkStar says:

    How about the BUT also tell us a detailed history of how the Ministry of Education over the last 30 years has not pushed these points, when have points not been addressed and become an issue etc……………BUT meeting at AME comes across as a PLP witch hunt—–
    Bda Union of Teachers, this will scare you—-I want facts to make my own opinion. It definitely appears that you are in bed with a bunch of idiot’s who are trying to poison Bermuda-if you really do have the education of our children as your first priority (although it seems it’s always teachers who are missing school due to health reasons not children)) I will say that as you are teachers you are not stupid-obviously to meet the above agenda you need some serious capital and if money is not readily available just where do you expect it to come from. Ever since Ms. Butterfield was stripped of her role as education minister the PLP basically destroyed public education by making Bermuda BROKE-the OBA’s first priority had to be to save the island from further fincial despair. They have done an amazing job of this and then unfortunately you are guilty by association

  12. Work to rule – that’s no different than what they do now!!!
    Funny how every proposal given to the BUT is always rejected and they know better. Useless lot.

    • CT says:

      that’s unfair to a lot of teachers who usually work way beyond contracted hours. try to be constructive.

  13. Warlord says:

    Private education for my daughter “priceless “

  14. maybe they are lying to us says:

    Combined opposition at work again?

    How many daays left in school

    • puzzled says:

      How many days before the election.

      The russhin PLP hard at work.

  15. hmmm says:

    Layman speak……………………..

    I think the issue with the preamble including ‘modern and relevant’ are not to disadvantage, but is too vague.

    Relevant to what …relevancy to one person is different to relevancy to another. You could argue that relevant = Insurance, or boat maintenance or even crime fighting. what is relevant to a teenager…having fun, dating…you can see where this can cause issues.

    Modern…what is modern. Google pops up with Defn: relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past. What is the remote past, 1966, 1708..So that would stop mathematics, languages, biology, chemistry, physics, economics etc being taught.

    Most businesses don’t run the latest operating systems on computers. most people don’t have 3D printers, so they are not relevant.

    Many things can be modern but not relevant or relevant but not modern.

    I think the reason for taking the two words out of the preamble is because their definition covers a huge amount of misinterpretation and could cause to exclude things it was intended to include.

  16. Comfortably numb says:

    People wonder why anyone who can afford it sends their children to private schools.Could it be because private schools aren’t unionized?

    • Zevon says:

      Teaching the kids is actually the priority. Imagine that.

  17. Brier says:


  18. wysiwyg says:

    At least there will be no detention after school without notice to parents, if they are working to rule as they have to stay to their written contract. So many times kids miss buses or appointments due to teachers keeping the children back without notice.

  19. kiskadee says:

    It is so obvious why this meeting was called at this time , just for political purposes. No wonder our public school education is such a mess. children and parents suffer as a result. Why can’t they have meetings after school gets out ?
    So to- day they are watching movies ? No wonder parents struggle to put their children in private school!

  20. What??? says:

    The PLP is disappointed? What did they do for teachers in their 15 years beside change ministers like daily washing? The teachers walked out on them too.

  21. Kevin says:

    I may be wrong but don’t they go on summer break next week …they really aren’t badly compensated 50k-80k and more for 44 weeks service a per hour ratio higher than many of us ….guess that means they won’t clean their classrooms … ya you may guess i am not really impressed by our teachers …we all blame government on the failure of our students education, its the standards we hold teachers too and allowing poor performing teachers to remain teaching …its time to clean house
    then we will see a change its not a building that teaches a child

  22. Local says:

    Shannon James is working for the PLP/BIU, they are Doing this to start controversy before the election. Pure games being played on behalf of the PLP, be smart Bermuda the PLP is all games. NO entrepreneurs in the plp party, because they have no vision!

  23. Eyes wide open says:

    If the deputy principals have too much work/responsibilities, then that means the principal of the school isn’t doing his/her job properly!!! If that is the case, then the principal should be fired because of incompetence and let the deputy take over. Taxpayers will not be getting value for their money by having a nonteaching deputy. If schools have lower enrollment now more than ever, why the need for a nonteaching deputy, when years ago schools had higher enrollment and teaching deputies? It doesn’t make sense! Either the deputies are lazy and don’t want to teach or the principals are incompetent and can’t manage their building by themselves. I am a tax payer and I want value for my money! If a school has failing test results, then that means the principal and deputy principal ain’t doing their jobs!!! Stay awake people!!!

  24. Realist says:

    There are over 600 teachers. Less than 300 vote….and the Union unethically pushes their political agenda. There is no need for non teaching deputies. There is a need to do an independent review of what teachers are actually doing. Many are not teaching. There’s a lot of wasted time in schools. This is pure laziness and greed.

  25. Coffee says:

    I blame Grant Gibbons for this mess . He abandoned his position as the minister of education for Cross Island .

    He never looked back !

  26. bdaboy says:

    “I blame Grant Gibbons for this mess ”

    i blame you, coffee