Jermaine Francis, Gleaner Writer
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has indicated that some 200 teachers have already been redeployed as part of the ministry's thrust to save some $223 million over the next two years.
Thwaites said the relocation process has been going according to plan and that the ministry will be pressing ahead with more redeployment throughout the school year.
A disgruntled Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) is taking issue with how the process has been handled so far.
In an advertisement published in The Sunday Gleaner, the JTA expressed that it has been receiving reports that "teachers are being coerced into accepting to be transferred to other schools and in some cases threatened with loss of salary if they refuse to participate".
Forced to do clerical duties
The advert also stated that the JTA has received reports of teachers being forced to perform clerical duties in the education ministry's regional offices.
However, Thwaites told The Gleaner yesterday that he was unaware of these things happening.
He said of the close to 200 teachers already redeployed, the ministry has not received any such complaints.
"We have absolutely no indication of these, so I am hoping that if there is any such, they can be submitted to us so we can deal with them," Thwaites said.
The minister said if the JTA has such information about documented cases of coercion or teachers being forced to work in ministry offices, the union should present it to him.
In its advertisement, the JTA also noted that it endorsed relocation of teachers under certain terms, including voluntary redeployment and without teachers losing their benefits.
"We've made it clear that no one is going to lose any benefits, but we cannot have a situation where [one school] has nine or eight teachers to a hundred students and down the road [at another school] they are running classes at 50 to one," Thwaites added.