Teachers not greedy!
JTA blasts Government's 4% wage offer, says educators deserve proper compensationWednesday, November 24, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
The head of the teachers' union yesterday rejected the notion that educators are greedy and unreasonable as he equated the Government's four per cent wage offer to a show of pity for professionals who deserve to be properly compensated for their hard work.
“The teachers of Jamaica are painted in the public space as though we are craven, greedy, gluttonous, lazy, and worthless people who are just there to raid the coffers of the country, and that is not true,” Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) President Winston Smith told the Jamaica Observer yesterday during an exclusive interview at his office.
“We need to dispel that rumour because that is not what teachers are about. As a matter of fact, we have been bent... to the point that our foreheads are now touching the ground. We are now left to be obliterated because every tissue, every muscle, every nerve, every capillary in our bodies have been stretched to the maximum,” Smith said.
So far, 25 bargaining units representing public sector workers have accepted the Governments four per cent increase for a year.
That one-year agreement includes a one-off payment of $40,000 to workers who are earning $1.5 million and less, as well as an assurance to pay the retroactive amounts dating back to April 1, 2021.
Yesterday Smith, who has been serving on the JTA's Salary and Conditions Committee for almost 12 years, said the association has been engaged in a back and forth process with the minister of finance and the public service in lobbying for a reasonable salary for teachers.
He said he does not get the impression that Jamaicans truly value education.
“There has never been a single negotiation where the Ministry of Finance would look at teachers and say, 'We recognise your worth, we value your contribution, we see education as the pillars on which our economy can be built, so I am going to give to the teachers a decent, liveable wage,'” Smith said, noting that the JTA had asked for a 20 per cent wage increase.
“When we talk about teachers asking for an increase and the Government is going to look at us and say four per cent and nothing more, it is a wicked act,” he said.
According to Smith, the JTA is not at the stage of agreeing to the Government's current wage offer, as the association is still awaiting the finance ministry's formal response, in writing, to a claim submitted.
“The future of Jamaica rests on this negotiation, and the poor people of Jamaica are going to pay dearly for the decision of the Government of Jamaica because their children are going to go to school and there is no teacher to teach them,” he said.
The JTA, Jamaica Police Federation and Nurses Association of Jamaica are among the groups that have not yet completed negotiations with the finance ministry.
Figures obtained by the Observer from the education sector indicate the salaries that would be paid to teachers who have obtained a diploma or first degree before and after getting the proposed four per cent increase without taxes.
For a teacher with a degree, the annual basic pay is $1,299,336, and the monthly basic pay is $108,278. With the four per cent increase the monthly basic pay would be $112,609.12. After the four per cent increase, that teacher would get $4331.12 more monthly.
For a teacher with a diploma, the annual basic pay is $1,003,449 and the monthly basic pay is $83,620.75. With the four per cent increase, the monthly basic pay would amount to $86,965.58. After the four per cent increase, that teacher would collect $3,344.83 more.
A trained teacher with a degree earns, after 11 years of service, an annual basic pay of $1,615,213, while the monthly basic pay is $134,601.08. With the four per cent increase, the monthly basic pay would be $139,985.12 before taxes.
After the four per cent increase, that teacher would get $5,384.04 more.
A teacher with diploma, after 11 years of service, is paid $1,247,396 annually, while the monthly basic pay is $103,949.67. With the four per cent increase, the monthly basic pay would be $108,107.65. After the four per cent increase, that teacher would get $4,157.98 more.
Teachers are also entitled to receive additional allowances as part of the new heads of agreement with Government.
The last agreement was signed in 2018.