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Roberts: Relationship between Gov't, JTA not as bad as it seems

Friday, August 22, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Trade unionist and head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute (HLSTUEI) Danny Roberts says the relationship between the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) and the Government is not as strained as how it is made out to be in the media.

"I can tell you, the relationship in reality is not as bad as it appears to be. But stereotypes and perceptions play a big role in the scheme of things," Roberts said.

He recommended that, in order to play down the negative perception, both parties should meet and determine how future discussions are conducted.

"Monday's [Jamaica] Observer headline is not what we want to see, and therefore what it means is that both sides must first sit down and talk about the rules of engagement going forward," Roberts suggested.

"The nature of our industrial relationship system is seen as adversarial. Public pronouncements from both sides, however well intended, are going to be swept up in a media hype. This will only seek to entrench and seek to hold out one party as divine and the other divisive," he added. "Dialogue is, of course, to be pursued and the only alternative to dialogue is more dialogue. And so there needs to be a meeting to establish a protocol to guide how issues are dealt with by both sides."

Roberts was delivering the keynote address yesterday on the opening day of 50th staging of the three-day Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) Annual General Meeting at Hilton Rose Hall Hotel and Spa in Montego Bay, St James.

He noted the need for preserving the image of the teachers' union.

"The image of the JTA, this noble professional body, is being tarnished and demonised. But delegates, you can take comfort and pride in the JTA over the past 50 years," Roberts told the scores of delegates.

"And when you see those persons who have occupied leadership in the JTA going on to offer yeoman service and leadership to our country, then I say the work of the JTA makes it worthy of being canonised not demonised," Roberts added.

— Horace Hines

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