Jamaica Observer / THE Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) has noted with concern, the Ministry of Education’s decision to extend the school year by three days. Yesterday’s Jamaica Observer front page story said that some teachers have suggested that this action is a direct response to the teachers’ sick-out on March 12-14 as wage negotiations with the Government came to a head.

The teachers had staged the protest against the Government’s wage offer of a 16 per cent increase over four years.

The JTA, in a news release yesterday, questioned the intended purpose of the ministry’s decision, “in light of the fact that there were some clear understanding arrived at among the parties at the Ministry of Labour on March 14, 2018, including that there would be no victimisation”.

However, Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid denied that the extension of the school year is a result of the sick-out.

Reid told the Observer that it is the law to ensure that school is in session for a maximum of 190 days.

In the meantime, the JTA release also said that it has not reached an agreement with the Government as it relates to salaries and condition of service.

“Therefore, there will be no increase in basic salary until an agreement is reached. Teachers need to be aware that the salary they will receive as of April 2018 will be the same as they received at the end of March 2018. The five per cent payment was an advance payment on retroactive salary for the period April 2017 to March 2018. There will be no increase until and unless there is an agreement,” the release said.

In addition, it said that its members need to be informed that the new Pension Plan for Public Sector Employees, including teachers, will be implemented as of April 1, 2018.

“The JTA is in discussion with the Ministry of Finance as to its implications for contributions by teachers because the association had an agreement with the Ministry of Finance that teachers would not commence contributing until they started to receive new and improved salaries,” the release said.

The JTA also assured its members that it is treating with all matters relating to their welfare.

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