Friday 21 September, 2018

Teachers protest over upgrades, wages

Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) held a demonstration on Friday at the Education Ministry’s headquarters, demanding upgrades and salary increases for some 400 teachers who graduated from the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC).

Speaking to LoopTT, TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai says the association has resorted to this demonstration because after numerous meeting requests the Ministry has not been able to address the matter.

Doodhai said a number of teachers who recently graduated from the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) with teaching degrees have been employed as assistant teachers when they should have been upgraded to Teacher 1 status.

“This morning TTUTA and the affected teachers engaged in a picket demonstration outside of the Ministry’s offices, the issue is that these teachers should be upgraded to Teacher 1. They have gone through the USC and obtained their teaching degrees. Some have graduated as far back as 2009.”

He said letters have been sent regarding the teachers, requesting that their positions be upgraded but the Ministry has not been responsive.  

Doodhai says it is only fair that these teacher be paid according to the level of work they are doing.

“They continue to work on an assistant teacher’s salary which is approximately $6,000 per month. The Ministry of Education has to assess their recommendations to give the ok to have the teachers upgraded, and this has not been done.”

“TTUTA has attempted over the past two or three years, having had two bilateral discussions, which has failed, and we have now resorted to picket action.”

“We are calling on Minister Garcia to intervene and treat expeditiously these teachers who are frustrated and feel downtrodden because of the fact that they are not being upgraded, which is their rightful due, and because of the fact that their salaries are making it very difficult to survive from month-to-month.”

He said these teachers are unable to secure loans or negotiate with mortgage companies because of their low wages and precarious status.

He also urged Education Minister Anthony Garcia to heed TTUTA’s adding that during his time as TTUTA head, Garcia should understand the importance of a timely response.

“The Ministry has not seen an interest in meeting with TTUTA for the past couple months on any issue affecting us. They have cancelled meetings, they have put off meetings, we cannot get any response from them.”

“Our Minister of Education is a former head of TTUTA, and he also complained about the lack of consultation by the Ministry. I hope he remembers what he campaigned about as head of TTUTA, about meeting with the Ministry and dealing with the issues affecting TTUTA.”

Doodhai says TTUTA is looking forward to meeting with the Ministry to sort these matters out as soon as possible.