Featured Jamaica Teachers Association -JTA- President Georgia Waugh-Richards and Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid
KINGSTON, March 2014, The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) has been called back to the negotiating table after ending an emergency conciliation meeting with the Finance Ministry at the Ministry of Labour on Wednesday.
The JTA's negotiating team have been in discussion with representatives of the government since 10 o'clock Wednesday morning in an effort to end industrial action by public sector teachers who have been off the job for three days in protest over the Finance Ministry's refusal to honour their rejection of government's wage offer of a 16 per cent increase over four years.
The teachers are upset that the Finance Ministry is seeking to make unilateral retroactive payments this month, despite not reaching an agreement.
Opposition Spokesman on Labour Horace Dalley told the House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon, that the government was enjaged in union busting.
Dalley said the decision of the Ministry of Finance to pay the teachers and other public sector employees without a signed agreement is a way to try to weaken unions and it must be resisted.
"Announcing payments is a means of signalling that we have nothing more to talk about...and I say, this action of the JLP administration will have wider implication for the wider society and workers at the work place who are in collective bargaining," he contended.
But Rudyard Spencer, State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, argued that the teachers can challenge the decision with the Ministry of Labour who can then take the matter before the Industrial Disputes Tribunal.
"If you knew all of that, why did you come and tell the House that because the teachers did not get what they want, it is union busting? It is not, it is not, it is not!" he insisted, accusing the opposition spokesperson of being dishonest in his claims.
In a statement to the House, Mr. Spencer also said the government cannot afford some of the requests being made by the teachers.
"Our teachers have asked for an increase of $60,000 in the Book and Software Allowance. If this were to be granted, it would cost approximately $1.7 billion. While we acknowledge the need for more resources for the teachers, there simply is no more room to absorb any further increase at this time, given the imperative to get to nine per cent wage to GDP," he asserted.
He urged the teachers to "exercise patience and tolerance for the government's current position as we work to build a stronger, more robust and more resilient economy." This, he said, "will allow us to provide more in the future for our teachers."
Last modified onThursday, 15 March 2018 08:25
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