JTA denies claims that it forces teachers to stay with the union long after they decide to leave
Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) president, Dr Mark Nicely, says there is no policy, written or unwritten, in the union to deny teachers the right to rescind their membership whenever they want to.
Nicley, in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner last week, dismissed claims by teachers at a Corporate Area high school that they were prevented from leaving the union after dissatisfaction with the representation it offered.
The teachers claimed that by the end of the December term, they were dissatisfied with the JTA and wanted out.
According to the teachers, they were told that they could not leave the union before August of each year, when it holds annual elections, and they would have to continue paying monthly dues until then.
"Nothing like that. You don't have to wait a year, you can join this month and exit next month," said Nicely.
However, he noted the organisation must examine the status of teachers who indicate a desire to leave the union which offers some privileges to its members.
"One of our affiliate groups is the JTA Credit Union. In order to access the credit union, you must first be a member of the JTA. So the other side of the coin is that if you have obligations to the credit union, you will not be allowed to exit the association until those obligations are discharged," explained Nicely.
"How you exit is that you put in writing your letter stating your wish to exit, take it to the head office and it is processed, and your membership is rescinded," added Nicely.
He said there is nothing preventing anyone from leaving the JTA within a month after a letter stating same is sent to its offices.
"We would send the requisite information to the Ministry of Education to have them cease the deduction, and it would be completed within a month."
If the school is a bursar-paid school, the bursary would be notified of the teacher's wish, following the submission of the letter.
Dr Nicely said the JTA makes an effort to discourage teachers from leaving the organisation because past experiences have shown that situations later arise which leaves them seriously exposed.
In the end, however, the final decision rests with the individual.
The JTA, he said, is not allowed to defend non-members, and in some instances have spent as much as $5-7 million on a member.
Nicely noted that a teacher who is not a member of the JTA could find himself/herself in situations requiring that amount of expenditure, and might have difficulties finding that amount of money.
'Nothing like that. You don't have to wait a year, you can join this month and exit next month'