Teachers Union Says Education Mum on Salaries and Health & Safety Issues

(left to right) Montserrat Union of Teachers (MUT) Denise Silcott, President, Jose White, Vice President, Charliena White, Treasurer, Ritchlyn Duke-Hackett, PRO

Thursday the Montserrat Union of Teachers chastised the Ministry of Education for its poor communication and lack of activity as it relates to several outstanding matters.

President of the MUT, Denise Silcott said since the new board took office in November 2016, they met with teachers in all sectors to find out their concerns, which they discovered to be vast. They then requested a meeting with ministry of education officials, which was granted in January 2017 and where they presented a booklet listing the issues raised by their membership.

Jose White, Vice President of the MUT and a grade six teacher told members of the press that remuneration for teachers on all levels is an outstanding issue that they are not making any progress with. White said teachers salaries have remained unchanged even after they become more qualified and have been given new job roles and titles. She added that teachers without certification are paid less yet required and are doing the same work as qualified ones. Some, teachers the union official said, have been working for more than five years on special agreements, which has repercussions and block their access to bank loans and other services for which job security must be proven.

Other issues related to remuneration include supervisors not submitting performance development reports of their staff, which is a prerequisite to get further increments. The union voted for an 15% salary increase and for the addition of professional allowances. To obtain the allowances, teacher must be redefined as a profession, the officials said. In this regard, they have drafted a Code of Ethics.

The group says despite numerous letters and promises of a response, they have not received official word from the government.

A plan and timeline for training for teachers was also another sore issue with the group that has remained unanswered.

MUT Treasurer Charliena White said they have been responding to the ministry’s requests on unrelated matters and wished for them to provide the same respect for the issues they have raised.

Construction works at Brades Primary, slipper tiles at Lookout Nursery School, slippery steps at the secondary school and terrain not conducive to rain, are some of the health and safety hazards that have been brought to government with no further action taken.

“Our job is to see to the needs of our teachers,” said the MUT president. She added that the Caribbean Union of Teachers of which they are a paid member is aware of their concerns and is providing advice on a way forward.

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