Teachers out of patience

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica Teachers’ Association said it has run out of patience with the Government regarding implementation of a salary and realignment package exercise.

Doran Dixon, president of the JTA, speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, stopped short of saying the teachers would stay away from the classrooms if their requests were not met.

“The frustration has reached to the point where we have run out of patience,” Dixon said.

“If so (in case of a strike by teachers), we will put some contingencies in place,” he said.

Last week, the Government said it was not in a position to increase teachers’ pay to within 80 per cent of their private-sector counterparts.

Dwight Nelson, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, said last Wednesday that because of tight fiscal constraints, the Government could not foot the bill to realign teachers’ salaries.

At the same time, Miranda Sutherland, president of National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, said the United States recession would affect the Government’s ability to fulfil its pledge.

“[Teachers] take emotions out of the way and look at the reality. While we want a mutual agreement, we would want them to exercise a little more patience,” said Sutherland.

If teachers stayed away from the classrooms, she said, it would cause security challenges for students, who would be left to wander the streets.

“It means they are going to be left loose on the streets again and look at what is happening now regarding our children,” she said.

The JTA has scheduled a press conference for this afternoon at its Church Street headquarters in downtown Kingston, where it will outline its reasons for this salary realignment.

The teacher union is also to meet with the Ministry of Finance tomorrow on the issue.