Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Teachers still restive, says JTA boss

Educators want issues with allowances, other matters settled swiftly

Published:Tuesday | November 21, 2023 | 12:08 AM
Leighton Johnson, president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association.
Leighton Johnson, president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association.

Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) President Leighton Johnson has said that educators in the public sector are running out of patience as they await a formal invitation from the Government to discuss how their graduate and remote allowances are to be paid.

In October, the permanent secretary in the education ministry, Dr Kasan Troupe, told Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee that the ministry erred by not factoring in the graduate allowance for some teachers under the compensation review.

In terms of the remote allowance, the ministry also acknowledged that it made an error by paying the teachers at the old rate instead of the new figure agreed upon during the compensation review.

“At this point, we want a resolution to this. These matters have to be resolved. We do not want these matters to languish. We want these issues to be resolved immediately so that they do not go over into the next increase that teachers are due in April 2024,” Johnson said yesterday.

Remote allowance is paid to approximately 2,400 teachers who work ine deep-rural areas and volatile communities. The graduate allowance is paid to educators who upgrade their qualifications to master’s degrees and PhDs.

The JTA president also told The Gleaner that some teachers are constantly complaining about a disparity in their salaries on a monthly basis, but no explanations are being provided for the discrepancy.

“We want to be in a position where teachers can comfortably and confidently calculate their salaries; calculate what is to be remitted to the bank on a monthly basis. We want to get to that position. We are not there yet,” Johnson said. “Until we get to that place, there is still anxiety. Until we get to that point, teachers are still restive.”

Johnson said the JTA has been presented with a list of more than 30 teachers who have been experiencing certain challenges – “situations where persons’ files were not correctly processed; where the ministry is indicating that documents were not submitted from the schools and schools are contending that these documents were submitted on time.

“These are the kinds of things that we face. The ministry is indicating that they are short-staffed in some of their regions so, therefore, it presents a backlog in terms of how teachers’ files are processed,” he said.

The JTA president said that at the end of every month, there are teachers raising additional issues, including instances where some who have been working for years were not paid in a given month.