JTA rejects Gov't's wage offer
The delegates of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) flatly rejected the Government's wage offer, which was presented to them during a closed session at the association's 52nd annual conference in Montego Bay yesterday.
While not providing details of the offer that was made to the JTA by the Government, Georgia Waugh Richards, the newly installed president of the JTA, says the association's delegates had unanimously rejected it.
"As was the spirit in the long wait for the negotiations to begin, the same was demonstrated in the room here this afternoon. Our members are disgruntled; many of them speak of feeling disrespected. Many of them expressed the feeling that we are valued much more than was offered," said Waugh Richards.
Waugh Richards said she could not provide any details at this time.
In looking forward, the JTA boss said the immediate plan is to get back to the bargaining table with the Ministry of Finance, which she hopes will take place within two weeks.
"Our next move is to present the response of the members to the Ministry of Finance," said Waugh Richards. "... At the end of the conference, we will do that."
Stiff challenge ahead
According to Waugh Richards, based on the negotiation schedule, they are due back at the bargaining table within two weeks. At that time, the association would continue its quest to secure a better offer.
However, the teachers are poised to face a stiff challenge as, based on a statement by Finance Minister Audley Shaw earlier this week, the Government was not in a position to accommodate some of the wage offers that are currently on the table.
When the curtain comes down on the three-day conference today, Education Minister Ruel Reid, who recently earned the wrath of the teachers by suggesting that some school administrators were behaving like extortionists in forcing parents to pay exorbitant auxiliary fees, is slated to address the conference.