THE Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) says teachers have the right to walk out if their schools do not meet the provisions laid out by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Specifically, Part 2, Section 6:2(f) that states "the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards amenities and arrangements for their welfare at work", according to TTUTA first vice president Davanand Sinanan.
In a recent interview with the Express, Sinanan said if they followed all the regulations laid out by the Act, some of the schools would be closed down. As such, he said if teachers can prove that their school is a safety hazard, they are free to walk out.
"We will not hesitate one bit to advise our members if they turn out to school and they are presented with schools that are unsafe. If their health and safety is threatened under the law, they have the right to remove themselves," he said.
Sinanan's statements come in the wake of statements made by Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh during the post-Cabinet press briefing last Thursday where he said 77 schools have been repaired over the August vacation.
In fact, during post-Cabinet press briefing last Thursday, Gopeesingh said they had completed "repairs and maintenance to more than 300 schools over the last two years and this 77 will be added on to these".
Responding to this Sinanan said: "Before school closed, we received a list of 210 schools that were to be repaired over the August vacation but at a meeting the minister said they were only able to get work going on 77 schools...and when we asked why, his response was that many schools that were supposed to have gotten work last year did not get work and they chose based on that".
"But what I am hearing is that because of the inefficiency of the Ministry of Education the vacation repair programme did not unfold as it was supposed to...before the vacation, the ministry ought to know the kind of institutional capacity it possessed before they proceeded to scope work for schools, you can't come now and say to us, after the programme is almost finished that this is the position and in no point in time did you communicate that to us or the national community," he said. See Page 19