The Trinidad Guardian / Come next September, at the beginning of the new school year, students could find their classrooms without teachers if the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) fails to commence negotiations with the T&T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA).

This was the warning given to the Government by TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai yesterday as he addressed workers at Avocat Junction, Fyzabad ahead of the annual Labour Day march.

“I want to let the Government know that after three years of waiting, teachers are getting impatient, teachers are getting restless, they are becoming frustrated and they are getting angry,” Doodhai said.

He said that since 2015, TTUTA submitted its proposal to the CPO for the collective bargaining period, 2014 to 2017 and to date, there has been no response. Since then, he said gas prices increased three times, food and transport costs went up while the standard of living of teachers had gone down.

Citing Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s presentation of the mid-year budget review, when he said, that the country “had turned the corner” and “we can see clearly now,” it was on that basis that Doodhai demanded that Government instruct the CPO to begin negotiations with the teacher’s union.

“I want to let you all know the TTUTA’s general council met in an emergency session last Thursday and took some very important decisions. If negotiations do not commence by September, in the new school year, you will see that teachers will take things into their own hands. I tell you, you may see schools without teachers in September.”

He said even retired teachers were suffering, having to survive on NIS payments and borrowed money from relatives. Meanwhile, teachers who have graduated with university degrees are working for years without being upgraded.

From former education minister Tim Gopeesingh to the incumbent Anthony Garcia, Doodhai said all the country got was an exchange. He said primary schools have not received subventions since March and are without basic items such as toilet paper and whiteboard erasers. He told the country that being red and ready or yellow and rising has done nothing for their cause.

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