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JAMAICA | Teachers more restive - Gov't prepare for a strike

Featured President of the Jamaica Teachers Association Georgia Waugh-Richards President of the Jamaica Teachers Association Georgia Waugh-Richards
KINGSTON, MARCH 11, 2018 -The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), having rejected Government's 16 per cent over four years wage offer, and having declared that teachers will not accept the Minister of Finance's premature one year retroactive payment to be made this month, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information says it is being proactive, and has put in place contingency plans to ensure that provisions are made for the safety and security of students, should the teachers take inductrial action this week.

The ministry in a release today said that in order to ensure that all schools across the island will be effectively manned during this period, a plan of action has already been effected.

Regional Response Teams (RRTs) comprising officers from the Ministry of Education, select tertiary institutions, Secondary Schools Student bodies and the National Parent Teachers Association of Jamaica are reportedly being briefed and placed on standby alert to take charge of classes as of tomorrow for the duration of the school day.

At the end of the day, the ministry said students will be sent home with an advisory from their school board indicating whether or not school will reopen the next day.

Plans are reportedly being put in place for 760 Primary, All Age and Primary and Junior High Schools and 171 High Schools.

The ministry said parents with students at Special Education Schools and Departments as well as Infant Schools and Infant Departments will be alerted through the media, telephone calls and the schools' SMS to collect their children at school as soon as they are advised of the industrial action.

They will be further asked to keep their children home for the period of the industrial action, the ministry said.

In the meantime, the ministry said the following events previously slated for tomorrow have been postponed:

- All training for the Alternative Pathways to Secondary Education (APSE) programme;

- Principal Leadership Training
- All meetings scheduled for tomorrow morning with ministry officers.

JTA President Georgia Waugh-Richards told a press briefing following a four-hour meeting of the association's Action Committee at its headquarters in downtown Kingston, on Friday, that the island's 23,000 public school teachers are restive at this time and no one can predict what action might be taken.

“We have the best interest of Jamaica at heart, and so in this matter… we will find a way; we must find a way,” said the JTA head.

“It has become public knowledge that the teachers of Jamaica have overwhelmingly voted against the offer on the table by the Government of Jamaica. Since that meeting on Saturday of last week we have written to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service to formerly let them know that the teachers of Jamaica have rejected the offer. To date we have received no response from the ministry,” said Waugh-Richards.

She took issue with the  “unfortunate pronouncements” by the minister of finance in his budget presentation: “He spoke to a 26 per cent increase that teachers will realise at the end of the proposed four-year period. We want to bring clarity to that situation and to really emphasise the fact that that pronouncement is unfortunate. The minister of finance spoke to a 2.5 per cent increment that he suggested that teachers receive at the end of every year, and if that 2.5 per cent is added over the four years then the teachers would have seen a 10 per cent increase at this point. We wish to indicate that not all teachers qualify for that 2.5 per cent increment. Teachers who are at the top of their scale no longer qualify for that 2.5 per cent increment and those teachers will have to sit at that point for three years before they can apply for what is called a seniority allowance, and that is not an automatic increase on teachers' salaries,“ she said.

The JTA President accused the Government of union busting: “The teachers are saying no: we have no agreement and therefore we will accept no payment. This is tantamount to union busting, and if we accept this, we will be trampled upon. The Jamaica Teachers' Association stands resolute; the teachers of Jamaica are saying to Government do not go that route [as] we are open for negotiation and we understand the concept of negotiation. We understand that we may not get all that we want, neither is Government willing to give us all that we ask, but we are willing to meet at the midpoint. We say to the powers that be, we are here, we are awaiting a response and willing to restart negotiations,” Waugh-Richards declared.

Last modified onSunday, 11 March 2018 19:55
  • Countries: Jamaica