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No deal - Teachers give thumbs down to Gov't's latest wage offer

Published:Tuesday | March 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
JTA President Georgia Waugh Richards.

The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) is heading back to the bargaining table in another attempt at shaking the piggy bank some more as they seek to get a better wage deal from the Government.

This, after members of the General Council of its association voted yesterday to reject the latest wage offer made by the Government last Friday.

The Gleaner understands that the Government had offered the teachers a one-off $20,000 incentive payment. However, the teachers were asking for a $60,000 increase in allowances.

JTA insiders disclosed that the vote was close, with 40 members opting to accept the offer while 48 chose to reject it.

The association's president, Georgia Waugh Richards, was not immediately available to confirm the voting numbers. But, in a release to the media, she said the teachers have mandated the leadership to seek out a better offer.


Dire consequences


State Minister for Finance Rudyard Spencer has said the Government cannot afford the $60,000 that is being demanded. He has pointed out that if the Government were to accede to the demand, it could cost taxpayers some $1.7 billion more. This, he noted, could have dire consequences for the Govern-ment's commitment to meeting the nine per cent wage-to-GDP ratio under the current standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Spencer also said the teachers have a clear understanding that payment increases refused now will not be considered until 2020.

"We respect our teachers, we respect government workers, but we can't do more than what we can. But, at the same time, much respect is due and we are giving them that," the state minister said.