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JTA says ministry soliciting info on 'sick' teachers

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) says the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is soliciting information from schools as it relates to the absence of teachers during March 12-14, when a sick-out was staged in protest against the Government's wage offer.

The JTA made the accusation as it expressed concern about the ministry's decision to extend the school year by three days, despite Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid denying that the extension is a result of the sick-out.

In bulletin 65/201, dated April 13, 2018, the ministry said that in order to make up for the lost contact time during the period of March 12-14, 2018 schools will only break for Labour Day on May 23, 2018 and resume on Thursday, May 24, 2018.

The teachers' association questioned the intent of this information in light of the fact that there was some clear understanding arrived at among the parties at the Ministry of Labour on March 14, including that there would be no victimisation.

However, Section 43 subsection 3 of the Education Act states that every public educational institution shall meet for classes not less than 190 days of each school year, unless it is prevented from doing so for reasons approved by the minister.

Meanwhile, JTA sought to remind its members that no agreement has been reached between the Government of Jamaica and the association as it relates to salaries and conditions of service and therefore, there will be no increase in basic salary until an agreement is reached.

“Teachers need to be aware that the salary they will receive as of April 2018 will be the same as they received at the end of March 2018. The five per cent payment was an advance payment on retroactive salary for the period April 2017 to March 2018. There will be no increase until and unless there is an agreement,” it asserted.

The teachers had rejected the Government's wage offer of a 16 per cent increase over four years.

In addition, JTA today said members needed to be informed that the new pension plan for public sector employees, including teachers, would be implemented as of April 1, 2018.

It said it is in discussion with the Ministry of Finance as it relates to its implications for contributions by teachers because it had an agreement with the Ministry of Finance, that teachers would not commence contributing until they started to receive new and improved salaries.

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