The New Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) president, Dr Mark Nicely, has vowed "no retreat, no surrender" in his union's fight to protect and advance the cause of the membership of the 24,000-strong teachers' union.
Delivering his inaugural address after being invested as president in a ceremony at Sunset Jamaica Grand on Monday night, Nicely said, however, that the JTA stands ready to work side by side with the Government and other stakeholders to better education in Jamaica.
Nicely's comments came as the Government seeks to cut back on some benefits that teachers now enjoy in light of stiff economic conditions and International Monetary Fund requirements that the Government reduce spending.
Nicely said any change in benefits that teachers now enjoy would be a breach of international industrial relations practice and would make null and void recent wage restraints documents signed between the JTA and the Ministry of Finance.
The new president chastised JTA detractors who, he said, blame all of education's failures on teachers, adding that other stakeholders are equally responsible.
"Any failure in the education system is the result of all those who have a role to play," he said.
CANNOT SACRIFICE ANY MORE
He said further that teachers have sacrificed enough for the good of the nation and cannot give any more.
"The critics, many with hidden agendas, could, as my grandmother would say, 'talk from now 'til a morning' when it has to do with the interest of the nation's teachers, and by extension, the interest of the children and the society as a whole. It will be a case of no retreat, no surrender, especially as it relates to protecting and preserving the benefits won through years of struggle. Having signed to a wage restraint, we have given all, if not more, that we can give and we simply have no more to give."