Teachers Take Islandwide Industrial Action

The Education Ministry says there were mixed reports from schools across the country today following the industrial action taken by some teachers.

Earlier, the Ministry said it provided additional support to schools. The teachers are protesting the government’s latest wage offer of 16-percent over four years, which Finance Minister Audley Shaw has said is the only offer on the table at this time.

A message being circulated to teachers speaks to industrial action starting today and lasting until Wednesday.

However, the message did not come directly from the Jamaica Teachers Association, JTA. In St Catherine and Clarendon at least 20 schools were reported closed. At least 11 schools were closed in Trelawny and St Ann. At least three schools reported no classes in Kingston and St. Andrew. At least 17 reported normality.

One-hundred-and-50 people from the Caribbean Maritime University were sent to 45 schools in Kingston and St. Andrew to man the classes.

Students in Manchester and St Elizabeth reportedly had the greatest need requiring additional help from the Northern Caribbean University to man classes.

Only 11 schools reported low teacher turnout.

In St Thomas, Portland and St Mary at least 21 high schools and 59 primary schools were in session. But attendance by both teachers and students were low at the primary level.

At least 66 schools were operating normally in St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland. In addition, students at the Montego Bay Infant were sent home.

Cornaldi Primary was also dismissed as only 19 teachers turned up for classes.

The Education Ministry continues to assess the situation. It says no instruction has been given for schools to be closed.

Meanwhile, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, JTA, says it stands in solidarity with public sector teachers who were absent today due to illness.

In a statement this afternoon the JTA says it has observed with interest information circulating in the media and from other sources on the issue.

The Association says it views the situation as a possible reaction to the manner in which the government of Jamaica through the Ministry of Finance has handled the ongoing salary negotiation for teachers.

The JTA says it wishes to place on record the tremendous sacrifices teachers have been making to advance the welfare of the nation’s children.

The JTA also says it’s not phased by the organized and deliberate propaganda and intimidatory tactics aimed at discrediting the association.

It also says it will not be daunted by the disrespect and the high handed approach employed in the negotiation process.

The JTA says it stands in solidarity with its members and well-wishers and expects the government of Jamaica will respond quickly in finding creative ways to satisfy the reasonable demands of the teachers.

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