KINGSTON, March 13, 2018 - With the island's educational system in disarray due to industrial action by the nation's teachers, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has called an emergency conciliation meeting among the parties to find a way forward.
The meeting was scheduled for 2:00 p.m. today at the Ministry of Labour, 1F North Street in Kingston, and brought to the table, the Jamaica Teacher's Association, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.
The proverbial straw which broke the camel's back, was the decision by the Ministry of Finance to begin paying teachers despite the fact that the teachers had rejected the government's 4 year pay offer among other things.
JTA President Georgia Waugh Richards, reiterated that the teachers are not in agreement with the four-year contract cycle. They made their discontent known to the Ministry of Finance which declined to respond to their letter and to invite them back to the bargining table.
She stated that while there is a freeze on all allowances, there is one in particular, the Book and Software Allowance, that the teachers would like reconsidered in light of the implementation of the National Standards Curriculum.
She argued that this single allowance would allow teachers to feel some "form of improvement in their earnings."
"In light of the unpredictability of the rate of inflation, we think it will not be in our interest to tie ourselves into a four year contract period and so we want to continue with the current two year contract period that now obtains," she said.
Earlier, the ministries of Finance and Education admitted that they are unclear of the main reason for the teachers' protest.
Speaking on TVJ's Smile Jamaica Tuesday morning, State Minister in the Ministry of Finance Fayval Williams, said there are two issues which could be the cause of contention. These are "the issue of the communication around the payment for this year that would have passed, and then you have the issue of a request for an increase in the allowance," she said.
However, she said there has been no formal communication from the Jamaica Teachers Association.
With regards to the request for an increase in the allowance, Ms Williams said the government has already made it clear that "we cannot do it" because "if we do it for the teachers, we would have to do it for all the public sector (and) that's an impossible task."
Last modified onTuesday, 13 March 2018 23:50
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