Sunday 20 October, 2019

TTUTA to send 'powerful' message with protest over stalled wage talks

The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) is expecting thousands of teachers to turn out on October 1, 2019 to march in the capital city over stalled wage negotiations.

TTUTA President Lynsley Doodhai says the association submitted proposals for a new collective agreement since November 2015 for the 2014-2017 bargaining period (October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2017).

However, he said the Chief Personnel Officer who is expected to respond to the proposal, has failed to do so.

Teachers are now approaching the 2017-2020 bargaining period.

“To date, which is almost four years later, we have yet to get those counter-proposals from the Chief Personnel Officer,” Doodhai said.

He says when TTUTA pressed the Chief Personnel Officer on the issue, the Finance Minister was blamed.

“The normal response would have been that they were still awaiting instructions from the Minister of Finance; they have gotten no mandate to start negotiations from the Minister of Finance and it keeps going onward like that.”

In the lead-up to the protest, members of the association have been wearing red ribbons as part of the demonstration.

Meanwhile, TTUTA’s President says he is hopeful thousands will participate in sending a “powerful” message to the powers that be.

He also says while the Education Minister does not have a part to play in the negotiation process, he hopes he intervenes behind-the-scenes to settle the issue.

“We hope that if he’s really interested in the Education sector in Trinidad and Tobago, he will have a quiet word with his cabinet colleague [Finance Minister] with respect to giving the necessary mandate to the Chief Personnel Officer to begin negotiations.”

Teachers will assemble at the Brian Lara Promenade in Port of Spain at around midday and will make their way throughout the capital before reassembling where they began.

The Association sought permission from Police Commissioner Gary Griffith on Tuesday.

Industrial Court to intervene

The TTUTA President says a march is not the only step the association is taking.

He recalled that two months ago, legal action was taken in the Industrial Court.

 “We have also filed two matters in the Industrial Court with respect to the failure of the Chief Personnel Officer to meet and treat with the association with respect to salary negotiations. Those two matters were filed in late July 2019.”

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