MONTEGO BAY, St James — President-elect of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) Doran Dixon wants Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites to intervene in the non-payment of a teacher for two months now because of his refusal to take up a transfer.
"I still maintain that the person that is ultimately responsible, outside of the prime minister, is the minister (of education) to intervene to fix this wrong," Dixon said.
According to Dixon, Glenville Mitchell, who has been employed to the Mispah All-Age School since October 4, 2010, has been victimised because of his refusal to take up employment at another school, which would create additional economic hardships for the teacher because he would have to relocate his family.
The teacher, Dixon said, had indicated that would not be in his best interest to take up the transfer but was told that he would have to do so or else he wouldn't get any pay.
Dixon was speaking on Friday at the Jamaica Observer Western Regional Teachers' Luncheon held at the Sandals Royal Hotel here in Montego Bay.
"We cannot sit by and allow a teacher to be deprived of his salary for no other reason but the fact that he has not agreed to be forcibly relocated and it's a relocation that would cause him, not just physical discomfort, but a significant economic discomfort," Dixon said.
"Again, while we maintain that we are not averse to voluntary relocation, it must be done in a way that does not put the teacher at a severe advantage because that can't be right," said Dixon, who was adamant that the JTA was prepared to defend the rights of the teacher.
Thwaites could not be immediately reached yesterday.
According to Dixon, there was a new thrust by the Ministry of Education to relocate teachers from schools considered over-staffed to other schools. However, he said that it was agreed that the teacher needed to voluntarily agree ahead of relocation.
"In fact we were essentially given assurances that the term voluntary relocation would be adhered to by ministry personnel. But on the ground what we are hearing is that in many instances this not the case and we can provide a number of teachers to speak to a number of instances where voluntary part of the process would have been totally forgotten," Dixon argued. Information reaching the JTA, he said, were that teachers were being forced to relocate against their wills.
"... What has been reported to us is that ministry officers have been going around trying to coerce people into relocating and we have said this in a meeting with the permanent secretary that the officers need to desist from doing this," said Dixon.
"... If can happen to one teacher it can happen to any number of teachers," Dixon told the luncheon.