Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Teachers ready ‘to act’

Conciliation meeting between education ministry, JTA to deal with issues, including strike

Published:Friday | May 26, 2023 | 1:36 AM
Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) President La Sonja Harrison speaking about the salary compensation package during a press conference at the JTA head office in Kingston on Monday.
Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) President La Sonja Harrison speaking about the salary compensation package during a press conference at the JTA head office in Kingston on Monday.

Andre Williams/Staff Reporter

WIDESPREAD PROTESTS by the nation’s teachers appear to have no end in sight as president of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA), La Sonja Harrison, said late yesterday that things have got worse heading into day two of their planned industrial action.

The JTA says they are still without correspondence reflecting any respectable dialogue from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, this since issuing their last letter to Government to rectify anomalies. As such, they say “it’s time to act”.

However, in an emergency move to stave off further fallout and have the teachers return to their duties soonest, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has arranged a conciliation meeting between the Ministry of Education and Youth and the JTA for 8:30 this morning.

The meeting will be held at the North Street office of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

In a release late yesterday, the ministry says it will be attempting to have the current impasse between the teachers and the Government amicably resolved within the soonest possible time.

Harrison was contacted by The Gleaner yesterday about the pending meeting. However, she promised to return the call, but up to press time, there had been no further response.

The teachers were restive yesterday and most schools in the Corporate Area ended at noon.

Harrison had issued a call on Wednesday for teachers to withdraw their services.

“This continued disrespect and (dis)regard for us as teachers is unacceptable. We must arise and register our displeasure. To make a bad situation worse, those who have received their salaries this month are confirming that anomalies/discrepancies are yet to be fixed. Colleagues, it is time to act,” Harrison said.

Yesterday, parents at Irish Gelly Primary in Kingston were told to collect their children as normalcy was uncertain.

The Gleaner understands that on the day, the JTA was still receiving complaints from teachers about salary discrepancies.

According to the JTA, teachers in Westmoreland, St Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, Kingston, St Andrew, and St Thomas will register their displeasure via industrial action on May 25 and May 26.

Teachers in Hanover, St James, Trelawny, St Ann, St Mary, and Portland are slated to take industrial action on May 29 and 30.

Teachers across the entire island, the JTA noted, will take industrial action on May 31 and June 1.

A teacher who spoke The Gleaner on condition of anonymity said while she supports the strike action, some schools should function normally

“If you are an underperforming school, please don’t strike. There is work to be done. Children are going to be worse affected. The Government must pay up the teachers,” she said.

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Maureen Dwyer, said the ministry remained on alert for any further disruption over the next 24 hours.

The Gleaner visited the Stony Hill Primary and Junior High School and Manning’s Hill Primary, where sports day was in full swing.

There was no indication at either institution if school would be held today.

“They are here and getting ready (to strike). A good amount turned out this morning, but (it’s) highly likely they will not show up on Friday (today),” a staff member at Stony Hill Primary told The Gleaner.

Most parents who spoke with our news team expressed being in solidarity with the teachers.