Houses for teachers among proposed fringe benefits offer from Gov't
The Andrew Holness administration has offered to develop state lands for public-sector teachers and reduce by 10 years their wait time for a second benefit from the National Housing Trust (NHT).
The offers, government sources revealed, are part of a proposed 13-point fringe benefits package offered to the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) in the last round of negotiations on a new wage agreement.
According to the proposal, a copy of which was obtained by The Gleaner, public-sector teachers who are NHT beneficiaries will now have to wait just five years, instead of 15, to access other benefits offered by the agency.
The Government has also offered to reduce NHT interest rate for teachers by one per cent, ensure that the NHT awards 10 per cent of its housing development to teachers and that they pay no closing costs on these units.
The offers appear to have provided a glimmer of hope for the leadership of the JTA, which had signalled its intention to cause disruption in the public-school system to press the demand for an improved wage offer from the Government.
"The Government has promised to speak on the matter [of basic salary] by Friday as it will be discussed in a retreat from Wednesday to Friday. I hope that we will remain hopeful that the decision will be reasonable to all," read a message sent to teachers by representatives of the JTA.
"I hope we will find gratitude in what was negotiated and to understand that all [fringe benefits offered] cannot be applied to any one individual. Remember, united we stand," the message continued.
HIGHLIGHTS OF PROPOSED FRINGE BENEFITS PACKAGE
- For the pension reform that is effective once negotiations have been completed, we will pay one per cent over a five-year window instead of 2.5 per cent over two years.
- NHT beneficiaries will be able to collect their refund now.
- Interest rate will be moved down by one per cent by NHT.
- NHT beneficiaries will now only wait five years for another benefit instead of 15 years.
- NHT will now make available 10 per cent of its housing development available to teachers.
- Crown lands will be developed for teachers.
- No closing cost for NHT houses.
- Increase in health benefits - amount of money available.
- Guidance counsellors are now eligible for senior teacher position.
- Teachers and their children are now eligible for loans from the Students' Loan Bureau.
- Permission will be granted for principals to ask students to pay $300 per SBA subject, which will be given to teachers who mark SBA.