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Teachers protest over money owed
Some 500 disgruntled teachers from T&T’s primary and secondary schools protested yesterday outside the head office of the Education Ministry, Alexandra Street, St Clair, to vent their frustration over several issues including safety, tenure of service and non-payment of increments.
Lindsay Doodhai, second vice-president of the T&T Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA), said the teachers gathered outside the building around 10 am and continued their protest for some two hours.
He said the decision to picket followed a general council meeting in which teachers said they had enough.
“There is the issue regarding the payment of increment, teachers who have graduated from the University of T&T and from UWI and are yet to receive benefits and there is the issue of teachers in acting positions for several years. It is a general frustration on the part of teachers that resulted in this action,” Doodhai added.
He said despite monthly meetings with the Ministry of Education those issues were yet to be sorted out.
“We are only getting empty promises time-and-time again from the Education Ministry. We are hoping this action would cause ministry officials to awake from their slumber and start to deal with the issues,” Doodhai added,
Regarding increment payments, he said some teachers were owed for as long as five years, adding that some were also in acting positions for the same period.
If the matter was not resolved Doodhai said teachers were prepared to continue their actions.
“We would see more protests again if the ministry continues to do nothing. We have had enough,” Doodhai added.
On the issue of the booth camps for delinquent students as proposed by National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, Doodhai said no discussions have taken place within the union as yet.
In a statement yesterday Education Minister Anthony Garcia said priority was being given to all outstanding increments owed.
He said he empathised with the plight of teachers awaiting the processing of increments as well as pension and other retirement benefits owed to retired teachers.
He said increments for teachers at the secondary level were at varying stages of processing, adding he was awaiting information on the status for primary school teachers. Regarding the issue of filling vacancies Garcia said the ministry and the Teaching Service Commission would meet to prepare profiles on schools in which vacancies existed and a priority list for filling vacancies.