WITU calls urgent meeting Monday over CBA’s failure to provide work permits | THE DAILY HERALD

Charlotte Brookson Academy staff grading school assignments during the meeting at the WITU office on Monday.

 ~ CBA assures transparency and efficiency in processes ~

MADAME ESTATE–Windward Islands Teachers’ Union (WITU) held an urgent meeting with its members from Charlotte Brookson Academy (CBA) to address ongoing frustrations and administrative issues.

This meeting follows repeated but unsuccessful attempts to get the CBA board to secure and/or renew work permits for its teachers, the union said. The WITU Board met with CBA members on Monday morning in an emergency meeting. This meeting was prompted by continued delays and escalating frustration among the staff. The union had notified the CBA school board about the urgent meeting on Sunday evening. According to the union, this issue has plagued CBA for several years. Each year, staff members face significant challenges in obtaining the necessary work permits to apply for residence permits. The union also highlighted other persistent issues, such as the failure to register workers with General Pension Funds APS and the neglect in submitting essential documents for work permits. Several new teachers at CBA are still without work permits, WITU highlighted. The union noted that this delay also affects those needing to renew their residence permits, as a valid work permit is required first. Despite numerous emails sent to the school board, there has been no response. The delays have led to severe consequences. Two staff members currently do not have work permits and live in constant fear of deportation, the union emphasised. Other issues include an inability to open bank accounts or travel off the island. One teacher, who had purchased a ticket to visit home, cannot take the trip due to the lack of confidence in being able to return to the island. The union emphasised that these administrative failures have a profound impact on the affected teachers, causing significant personal and financial distress beyond professional inconvenience. To resolve the issue, the union has reached out to the Ministers of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) and Justice, requesting their intervention. Both ministries have assured the union that they have completed their part of the process. The final steps, involving the submission of documentation and payments, lie with CBA. The union has said that members will not return to work until the union board receives proof that CBA has submitted the completed work permit applications. Until then, WITU will continue to meet with its members to strategise and push for resolution. In a press release sent out late Monday night, CBA Director Tatiana Arrindell expressed her disappointment that the meeting was scheduled during such a crucial time as students prepare to take their end-of-year exams. She also pointed out that the correspondence regarding the meeting had been sent on a Sunday evening without proper notice to parents, further complicating the situation. Arrindell said she was also surprised to learn that the meeting was specifically for WITU members who are CBA employees, as opposed to a general assembly of WITU members. “One would have thought that as social partners, the principle of engagement and the protocol of due

process, if exhausted, would have eliminated all the misconceptions that presently exist,” she said. While acknowledging her support for unionism, Arrindell highlighted the need for responsible actions and proper communication. “In WITU’s letter, there was no reason mentioned; however, I have noted that one was proffered in the press release, which is both premature and unfounded. Had a meeting been requested, one would have been updated that we have already actioned this request and have already received the invoices for the payments as proof of submission and the payments have been made as promised,” Arrindell said.

She further mentioned that the necessary paperwork for work permits had been processed and payments had been made as promised, with affected teachers being informed of the updates. She acknowledged the time-consuming nature of bureaucratic procedures for permits, affecting both businesses and schools. Arrindell reassured that CBA had been transparent and had done everything possible to expedite necessary processes. She highlighted the importance of improved communication in the future to prevent similar occurrences and ensure that students remain the main priority in education. “Once again, had a subject matter been mentioned in the email from WITU and with sufficient time to respond, this entire situation of our employees abstaining from work could have been prevented,” Arrindell said. The CBA board also addressed the issue of work permits, saying that they had been transparent with staff members by providing updates on the progress in getting the paperwork for the affected teachers and were working to resolve the situation. “While we understand the plight of our team members, we have a process that we need to follow.” They thanked the remaining faculty and school management for their cooperation in ensuring that exams were able to proceed smoothly. According to the release, the CBA campus was a hive of activity on Monday with exams continuing as planned thanks to the full cooperation of management and non-WITU-member employees. Arrindell expressed her pride and gratitude to the students for their role in making the day run smoothly.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/witu-calls-urgent-meeting-monday-over-cba-s-failure-to-provide-work-permits