Sat | Apr 20, 2019

D-Day for teachers, Gov't in wage dispute - Educators to consider latest package today

Published:Monday | March 19, 2018 | 10:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
JTA president Georgia Waugh Richards gesticulates during a meet with members. From left secretary general Byron Farquharson and president-elect Garth Anderson.
Rudyard Spencer

The agitated Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) will today decide whether to accept the latest wage offer from the Government, even as there is a rush to pay back millions in retroactive sums which, according to the Government, cannot be delayed beyond month end.

Last Friday, the Government presented its latest offer to the teachers during a meeting at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

The latest offer has not been disclosed but the special council of the teachers union convened a meeting to review it and make recommendations for the wider teachers' body, The Gleaner has been told.

The special council meeting is slated for 10 a.m. at the JTA's headquarters in Kingston.

Friday's meeting between the Government and the leadership of the JTA followed a tense three days of sickout across the country, which resulted in some schools closing their doors.

The teachers became ill after the JTA rejected the Government's salary offer of 16 per cent over four years.

In the meantime, state minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Rudyard Spencer, is maintaining that the Government cannot afford a $60,000 increase in the book and software allowance the teachers have been clamouring for, in addition to higher basic wages.

Spencer said that if the book and software allowance were granted, it would see the budget going up by $1.7 billion.

He said while the Government would want to grant a substantially higher increase in allowances, it simply cannot afford it at this time.

The state minister stressed that the Government was focused on meeting the International Monetary Fund-backed nine per cent wage-to-GDP ratio.

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