Graduate teachers on the Caribbean islands of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are taking protest action over their salaries. More than 800 teachers, who are all graduates of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), are still being paid as assistant teachers, despite the fact that they have been awarded their Bachelor of Education degrees.
The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) has pledged its support for the graduate teachers’ action.
Earlier this month, many members of the TTUTA also took part in a mass demonstration to pursue a pay rise claim. Despite soaring inflation and the higher cost of living, they have not had a pay increase since 2008.
Meanwhile meetings have taken place in parishes all over Jamaica, organised by the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), to protest at the government’s failure to pay outstanding money owed to them in a timely manner.
JTA President, Paul Adams, addressed a teachers’ meeting in the parish of St Mary’s and said: “The government is not proposing to complete the payment of money it owes to teachers until 2013. This is completely unacceptable and we cannot back down in our demand for the government to honour their commitment of fair pay for hard working teachers.”
Adams also revealed that the Jamaican government plans to close 167 small schools across the island.
The government says it cannot pay the outstanding money in good time because of its commitments to the International Monetary Fund, which often makes cuts in public spending a condition of loans – very often this has a direct impact on education spending and on teachers’ salaries.