Thu | Feb 9, 2023

JTA urges teachers to hold strain as wage talks drag on

Published:Tuesday | December 6, 2022 | 12:07 AM

President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), La Sonja Harrison, is urging patience from her membership as the union continues wage negotiations with the Government.

At least 17 unions have signed on to the new compensation package and more than 60,000 workers are due to receive retroactive payments in their December salaries that date back to April.

“The JTA reminds that no pronouncements by Government at this time apply to this sector, particularly those represented by the JTA,” a press statement issued on Monday by the teachers’ union said.

“The association awaits the conclusion of ALL deliberations with our employers and anticipates as well favourable adjustments to the compensation package on behalf of all our members.”

In a Gleaner interview, Harrison said that no timeline has been set by the union for completion of the negotiations. She said that negotiators were working assiduously to ensure that each member is “well situated in what the Government is offering to us”.

“We are doing the due diligence of ensuring that our members are rightly situated in this restructuring exercise. There is no stall; we’re still having a conversation with the Ministry of Finance. There is no animosity,” she said.

Addressing concerns among members about the lengthy negotiation process, Harrison sought to assure that updates are provided consistently through regional consultations and parish meetings held islandwide – the most recent one conducted last month.

“I do appreciate that our members who have been staying in touch, certainly that they are abreast and they have been apprised of where we are in the conversation and we continue to use our channels internally to share the recent updates,” she said.

Meanwhile, the JTA is also calling for the Government to address other issues, such as non-payment of monies to teachers who facilitated summer and homework programmes initiated by the Ministry of Education during the coronavirus pandemic.

She also clamoured for the release of hundreds of post codes from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service that will see teachers who have been working up to seven years receiving their permanent letters that would enable them to access tenured benefits.