Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ministry regrets absenteeism at schools; teachers' union pleased with "rest and reflect" action

The Ministry of Education said on Friday preliminary checks reveal that 25 per cent of Primary School teachers and 35 per cent of Secondary School teachers went to work on Friday.

The others responded to their union and stayed away for what the Trinidad & Tobago Unified teachers' Union (TTUTA) called a time to "rest and reflect". Friday was the second day of the two-day action.

TTUTA has called the move a success noting that absenteeism at schools on Friday was between 90 and 95 per cent. It said the day before it was 69 per cent. While the union is pleased with its success, the ministry is not impressed with TTUTA's action

In an official statement, it called the action "regrettable". 

The ministry said: "Within the first 10 days of the new academic year, the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) has taken away three days of children's education. 

"It's regrettable that the education of the nation's students has now become collateral damage in this ongoing dispute between TTUTA and the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO). 

"Minister of Education, Dr. the Honourable Tim Gopeesingh, wishes to reiterate his previous statement on these negotiations and TTUTA's call for teachers' absence from schools. 

"He stated that he "is confident that while these negotiations are ongoing, the nation's teachers will continue to show dedication and commitment to the students who fall under their charges and he trusts that they will always ensure that the welfare of the children and the education sector remain their priority". 

"Minister Gopeesingh also expresses his strong desire that this situation never recur."

TTUTA took the action to put pressure on the CPO to conclude negotiations for enhanced salaries and conditions for teachers. The union and the COP met Friday and TTUTA's Second Vice President said the union held "meaningful discussions" with the CPO.

Orville Carrington told local media: "We have not reached consensus...But what we have detected, which is very important, is a change in the mood, a slight softening from the normal dogmatic position that would have been normally adopted. There is a willingness to consider our position."

Carrington said the union's priority is for an External Labour Market Survey to be completed in the shortest possible so teachers can start receiving current market wages.

"Once the Survey is completed we will still have to determine how the Survey will be applied. Our intention was to complete the negotiations by the end of September. I don't know if that will be possible given what is happening now. But we will want it to move on as quickly as possible."

Carrington said TTUTA is prepared to repeat its industrial action to maintain a strong negotiating position. "If needs be, we will certainly step up the action but again, our General Council will have to determine how we move on," he said. TTUTA has scheduled an Emergency General Council Meeting for Monday to discuss the next steps.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai