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Teachers ‘rest ’ today
Teachers are expected to stay away from classes today making good on their promise for a day of “rest and reflection.” It was at last Friday’s trade union march in Port-of-Spain that president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget advised parents to keep their children at home today and tomorrow, as teachers rest and reflect on the delay in concluding a collective agreement.
Just two weeks into the new school term, some teachers told students on Tuesday there would be no classes for the rest of the week. First vice-president of T& T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Devanand Sinanan said in an interview yesterday that teachers were fed up with the slow pace of the negotiations, which had been ongoing for the period of October 2008-September 2011 since July 2010.
Sinanan said the association was preparing for one of its biggest walkouts and advised parents to keep their children at home. He said: “If the Chief Personnel Officer fail to complete the proposed external labour market survey, teachers will take to the streets. If the exercise is not completed soon we will continue to protest.” He said the days of rest were intended to “underline our frustration, anger, disgust and dissatisfaction.”
Referring to the Vacation Repair Programme, Sinanan claimed it had been cut back to repairing 70 schools. “Only 33 schools were opened, and we feel that number is not accurate and we are not getting any satisfactory answers from the ministry,” he said. Sinanan said TTUTA submitted a proposal for negotiations on October 1, 2009 and it took the CPO a year to respond. “We started to have preliminary discussions and representations and TTUTA did groundwork for months and we started to talk in May 2010,” he said.
Sinanan said the ministry was completing a labour-market survey which was the basis for their negotiations. On Monday, CPO Stephanie Lewis said in a statement that progress was being made on several issues during weekly negotiations. Education Minister Tim Gopeesingh refused to comment when approached in Parliament yesterday afternoon.
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