Teachers reject Govt's wage offer

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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ROSE HALL, St James — The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) has unanimously rejected the 2017/2019 wage offer put forward by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

“Our members are disgruntled. Many of them speak of feeling disrespected. Many of them believe that we value much more than was offered, and so, our members at this time would have voted for us to reject this claim,” JTA President Georgia Waugh Richards told the media yesterday after a private session in which the teachers were presented with the teachers' claim and the Government's response.

The voting process took place yesterday afternoon during the second day of the Jamaica Teachers' Association 53rd Annual Conference, which is being held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James.

When asked what the offer was, the JTA's 11th woman president said that the association was not in a position at this time to divulge what offer was placed on the table.

Waugh Richards added that, at the end of conference, the teachers' response will be communicated to the Ministry of Finance with an aim of returning to the bargaining table in another two weeks.

A day earlier, during her address, the new JTA president had indicated that rough days could be ahead as the teachers negotiate a wage package with the Government.

“I can only imagine how turbulent the days ahead may be if we refuse to invest in the nation's teachers,” Waugh Richards vaguely warned.

She pointed out that the country's largest union is disappointed with the long wait.

“The records will show you that on December 20, 2016 we submitted a salary claim. It was not until February 2017 that we were called to a clarification meeting. The process, you would have been told, started on Friday when we were called to begin our talks. We, however, still want to place on record that we are disappointed with the long wait,” Waugh Richards articulated.

The president of the more than 24,000-strong association further warned that the nation's teachers have been holding strain.

“Ladies and gentlemen, delegates and observers, the course is clear. The cause of the Jamaican teachers must be represented with haste and urgency. We have been holding strain. Honourable minister [Senator Ruel Reid], I know the blood of teacher trade unionism runs deep in your veins. Honourable minister, I know when the teachers hurt, you feel it, for you are one of us,” Waugh Richards related.

In a plea to Minister of Education, Senator Ruel Reid who was at the conference, Waugh Richards pointed out that the teachers have been knocking at the door and if he hears the voices of his colleagues, he should not harden his heart.

Senator Reid, who served as JTA president from 2005 to 2006, is slated to address attendees today, the final day of the conference.

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