Placard-bearing teachers march on MOE Region 5 office in Manchester

MANCHESTER, Jamaica — A group of approximately 20 placard-bearing teachers marched from the Manchester High School to the Ministry of Education’s Region Five office in Mandeville on Friday.

The teachers, for the second consecutive day registered their displeasure with issues arising from the compensation review.

President of the Jamaica Teacher’s Association (JTA) St Elizabeth association, Mark Smith, told the OBSERVER ONLINE that teachers remain “aggrieved”.

“… The whole issue of how it is the Ministry of Education acting through the Ministry of Finance has not been able to respond in a very effective and efficient way [to] many of the concerns,” he said.

Teachers in Westmoreland, St Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, Kingston, St Andrew and St Thomas continued industrial action today, Friday, May 26.

In Kingston, a group of teachers voiced their discontent outside the Ministry of Finance pointing to the discrepancies in salaries, with one educator asserting that “there will be an exodus of teachers”.

The teachers shouted in unison messages such as “We teach, we care, so give us our share!”, and “We don’t all want to migrate. But we realise you come to frustrate!”

READ: ‘Fix it Nigel’ - Disgruntled educators bash Gov’t over salary discrepancies, compensation review

On Thursday, the Ministry of Labour said it arranged an emergency conciliation meeting for Friday between the JTA and MOE.

The JTA on Wednesday had called on teachers in Hanover, St James, Trelawny, St Ann, St Mary and Portland to take industrial strike action May 29 and 30 and an all island industrial strike action is set for May 31 and June 1.

Smith said teachers feel left behind.

“We are asking that both ministries do take the opportunity to engage with the president of the JTA (La Sonja Harrison) and to listen to the concerns of the teachers of this country. We have been for too long been asked to hold strain and it is very important at this inflection point that we register our concerns [and] how it is that we feel,” he said.

“We really feel that we are being left behind especially against the backdrop of the recent controversy surrounding salaries with our political directorate. We have not beef and we have no problem with our politicians deserving a raise.. but we also believe that the teachers of this country deserve a raise that reflects the work,” he added.

He said there are issues with the payment of teachers.

“We want people to be held accountable for this type of inefficiency and it has impacted the life of our teachers in such in a dramatic way. Many of our colleagues unable to pay their bills…” said Smith.

Kasey Wiliams

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