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JTA calls for speedier tribunal hearings

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) is making a strident call for the Teachers Appeal Tribunal to speed up case hearings for about 16 dismissed teachers who are now in limbo after waiting, in some instances, up to four years for their cases to heard.

The call was made yesterday by Byron Farquharson, secretary general of the JTA, who was addressing the second session on the first of the three-day JTA 55th Annual General Conference that is under way at Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James.

The conference is being held under the theme: 'Empowering Educators: Retooling, Innovating & Networking for Sustainable Development'.

“Now, when a teacher is dismissed, the teacher has a recourse — perhaps more than one — but certainly through the teaching service they can appeal to the Teachers Appeal Tribunal. Now the appeals tribunal does not go into the merit of the case, whether the teacher is wrong or right, it deals with the process: Was the law observed? Was due process served? And, therefore, teachers are allowed to appeal, but the challenge we are having colleagues, and I want us to understand, is that there are teachers who appealed in 2015 and in 2019 they have still not got a result. That cannot be allowed to continue,” Farquharson bemoaned.

“There are some who have applied in 2017, and today, as I speak, they still haven't got a date for a hearing. It cannot be allowed to continue,” he emphasised.

He stressed that, being without an income, dismissed teachers cannot fulfil their financial obligations.

“When a teacher is dismissed, it means that their salary stream has been cut off, and persons who have financial commitments, to include mortgage, unless you have an alternative source of income, all of that is going to go down the drain. It doesn't matter if you win in the end and [are] reinstated, it means you would have lost all of that. Therefore we feel that justice [needs to] be applied with speed,” Farquharson noted.

The JTA secretary general appealed to the Government to set a time limit for cases of dismissed teachers to be heard by the tribunal.

“We are saying to the State, when a teacher is brought before the board, they have nine months to hear the case. And if they don't hear it in nine months, the case [is] dead. We are saying there must be a time limit on when a case must be heard by the appeals tribunal,” he pleaded.

The Teachers Appeal Tribunal is a body set up to review the termination of teachers.


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