Sunday 7 June, 2020

TTUTA: Teachers entitled to leave by law

Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) said Friday's day of rest and reflection is being held not only in support of the nation's workers but also to address several issues affecting teachers which the union said have not been addressed. 

In a letter to members on Monday, TTUTA said under the Education Act, teachers are allowed to utilize their leave provisions to undertake rest and reflection and to "ponder the many attempts to meaningfully engage the CPO (Chief Personnel Officer) and the MOE (Ministry of Education) on the issues identified".

TTUTA added that there are several issues which government has not addressed, including 'deplorable, shabby, hazardous and unsafe working conditions' which teachers and students face in many schools. 

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"The main issues affecting teachers, schools and the education system include:

"1. The refusal of the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) to respond to TTUTA’s proposals for a new Collective Agreement for the period 2014-2017 and the failure to commence negotiations, even after some three years since the submission of our proposals. In fact, teachers are currently in the second year of a second bargaining period (2017-2020) without any inkling of a new agreement.

2.  The modern-day slavery that is being perpetrated by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) (an external agency), and the Ministry of Education (MOE) in attempting to force teachers to mark School Based Assessments (SBA) without any form of compensation.

3. The deplorable, shabby, hazardous and unsafe working conditions that many of our teachers and students face in the schools and under which they are forced to work on a daily basis. In fact, teachers and students would have again encountered these conditions this morning as they turned out for the new school year. 4. The non-payment of increments, incremental arrears, acting allowances and travelling allowances (in the case of School Supervisors and Curriculum Officers), which are owed to our members, in some cases, for years.

4.  The tardiness in upgrading qualified teachers, who have in some instances been waiting for nearly a decade, despite fulfilling all the requirements for their upgrades.

5.  The contemptuous refusal of the MOE to hold proper monthly, statutory meetings with the Association, with its two Permanent Secretaries in attendance, to engage in genuine consultation on issues affecting teachers and the schools, as they are required to do by law and normal practice.

6.  The inordinate delay in the payment of superannuation benefits to our retired members, who in some cases have to endure years of suffering and frustration before they receive their retirement entitlements for their many years of dedicated service."

TTUTA added that it stands in solidarity with OTWU workers and other workers whose needs have been ignored. 

"Along with every other trade union, TTUTA empathizes and expresses solidarity with the thousands of workers, their families and communities who will be affected by the closure of the refinery. This decision to close was apparently made unilaterally without proper, genuine consultation with the workers or with their recognized majority union, the OWTU."

The Association said both the CPO and the MOE "give little priority to treating with these critical issues and their cavalier attitude has shown their contempt for teachers, schools and the national community".

"Their message seems to be that the nation’s children do not deserve safe, healthy and secure schools and fully motivated teachers," TTUTA said. 

TTUTA is calling on the CPO to respond to its proposals for a new collective agreement which was submitted almost three years ago and to commence negotiations with the Association.

"TTUTA also demands that the Minister of Education and the MOE treat the Association with the respect it deserves as the majority recognized union and as a major stakeholder in our education system and address the various urgent matters that are vital to the development of quality teachers and quality schools," the Association said. 


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