Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
The island's teachers have flatly rejected the Government's latest offer on the outstanding 2010 to 2012 salaries and conditions of service claim served in 2009.
President of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) Clayton Hall told The Gleaner at the end of yesterday's session of the JTA's 48th Annual Conference at the Ritz Carlton Resort and Spa that the association received a partial response from Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance Horace Dalley on Monday, which is woefully inadequate.
"The teachers are highly dissatisfied with the offer at this time and we are seeking to have a holistic review done or seeking that the Ministry of Finance provides us with a response to the items of claim. The conference at this time does not see this as being beneficial or advancing the teachers economic viability especially within this time of economic hardships."
Dalley, in the two-page document, sought to address 10 points of claim, including school nurses, plant manager, guidance counsellors, plant security, substitute teachers and minimum standards in educational institutions.
However, his response did not find favour with the teachers.
"Suffice it to say the matters contained in the response are well below what we were expecting. We were expecting to see some movement on even one major item which is the special teachers allowance which would see teachers across the island getting at least some reprieve from the prevailing economic conditions," Hall said.
"There is little within this offer which speaks to buoying or assisting the teacher in coping with the increasing cost in the standard of living."
He indicated, however, that while the response was not what was envisaged, there was some movement on the motor vehicle loan for travelling officers to equate it with their colleagues in the public sector.
Hall also said agreement has been reached regarding what he said was the phased removal of pit latrines from schools, and there was an undertaking to provide security fencing for schools, beginning with the five most needed within this financial year.
The JTA's head also said that the Government had indicated that it had received more than 2,000 applications from unemployed teachers in response to the Emergency Employment Programme (temporary employment) and that the process of selection would commence shortly and the teachers placed in September.
Hall also sought to brush aside claims that there could be some disruption to the school year come September, based on the Government's response to the JTA's claim.
"Teachers are the last persons to do any disruption within the education system because we are cognisant of the importance of what we do. So, therefore, we are not considering any disruption to the education system, but we are seeking the benevolence of our employers to recognise that we operate under trying economic times and we would like to see at least some reprieve - some breathing space in ensuring that we too can survive."
The JTA is also awaiting word on the 2010 to 2014 contract, the claim for which has already been submitted to the finance ministry.
The teachers are also still owed for the 2007 and 2008 pay period.