A poster displaying support for Jamaica Teachers' Association President LaSonja Harrison being circulated in the teachers' Whatsapp groups.

Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) President La Sonja Harrison is being backed by some members of the union who have threatened to stage a protest in agreement with her decision to refrain from signing off on the Government's latest wage offer.

The concerns of the teachers who took to their WhatsApp group comes two days after the signing of the wage offer was done at the Ministry of Finance and Public Service.

The JTA, through its secretary general Dr Mark Nicely, wrote to Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke conveying the wishes of the delegates who represent the 78 district associations islandwide and requested that he executes the necessary processes to facilitate the signing of the heads of agreement.

"Maybe this was the reason why the president didn't sign. In his [finance minister] budget presentation the minister said $12 billion [was] budgeted for teachers. Now, he wanted our president to sign for $11.8 billion, what happened to the rest of the money?" a perturbed educator said.

"What I admired about my president — she reads and cross reference. She does her due diligence. If she had gone and signed, her detractors would have castigated her for not doing her due diligence," the educator added.

Another teacher shared that it was illegal for the JTA president-elect to sign off on the wage offer.

"We need a lawyer to look into the agreement reached by the JTA with a signature from the JTA president-elect. This is illegal and the minister of finance should not have allowed this to happen. The signature of the president-elect is illegal," the teacher said.

The educators also questioned outside calls for Harrison to resign.

"Why should she resign? Because she stood her ground, she stood for the cause, she decided that she would do her job with integrity? We should go out and cause chaos tomorrow morning. The president that was elected was the one who should sign off on the contract and since she didn't sign the contract, I believe it should not be accepted," the teacher said.

Another educator said: "They played straight politics with this negotiation and the president would have none of it but instead she tried her best to do things in the best interest of the teachers."

Other educators who expressed that Harrison upheld her integrity asked their colleagues to join in on staging a protest in honour of her efforts.

"Colleagues, we should unite and plan a demonstration at the JTA head office in support of madam president. She wanted much better for us. She just answered the question of the type of persons around her and their intent to sell us out," said one teacher.

Another colleague agreed, "We need to stand by the president. We protest if she is forced to resign."

On Sunday, the JTA announced that 80 per cent of its delegates (629) who attended a specially called virtual delegates' conference voted to accept the latest wage package offered by the Government while 19 per cent of eligible voters (147) said no.

BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON Observer staff reporter hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

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