Teachers likely to reject wage offer, says JTA

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Sunday Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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TEACHERS are likely to reject the Government's wage and fringe benefits offer following the first round of negotiations, outgoing Jamaica Teachers' Associations (JTA) President Howard Isaacs has said.

Talks between both parties opened last Friday at the Ministry of Finance's Heroes Circle Offices.

The meeting formed part of the discussions toward ironing out the wage and benefits package for the 2017/2019 contract period.

The JTA, which represents more than 20,000 of the island's registered teachers, had last month said that it could not guarantee normality for the start of the new academic year in September.

State minister in the Ministry of Finance and Public Service Rudyard Spencer, in a news release on Friday, said that the Government is hoping to have the discussions wrapped up as soon as possible.

Spencer highlighted the importance of the nation's teachers as a pillar of socialisation and academic training and urged them to work with the Government toward a mutually satisfactory position on the areas to be addressed.

“Despite the need to come to the bargaining table for each contract period, we need to move forward on one accord because at the end of the day, we are seeking the same objectives,” Spencer said.

But Isaacs, who spoke with the Jamaica Observer following Friday's talks, said while the association is satisfied that negotiations have begun, the Government's offer is less than ideal.

“It would not be the protocol of the association for me to say what they are offering. It can only be done on the floor of conference. …From where I'm sitting I wouldn't want to say, but we're almost 100 per cent sure that the delegates of the Jamaica Teachers' Association will not be satisfied, but we will see and we will present same to them,” Isaacs told the Sunday Observer.

The JTA is scheduled to open its 53rd annual conference tomorrow and end on Wednesday.

Isaacs added that the direction the association takes is in the hands of delegates.

“The conference this year is going to be an extremely critical one,” said Isaacs.

He added that discussions are expected to take place on Monday, where delegates will be “looking in detail on the response from the Government”.

President-elect Georgia Waugh-Richards, who is slated to take over the reins of the association then, is expected to plot the way forward, Isaacs said.

A second meeting with the Government is slated before month end.

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