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ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Real teachers should break away from the JTA

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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Dear editor,

With the close 48-40 vote against the latest wage offer from the government to teachers, and the anger that has elicited in the ranks of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA), it is now time for the real teachers in this country to break away from the JTA and form a separate group to negotiate with the ministry of finance.

The JTA no longer represent the views and wishes of the majority of the island’s teachers. The manner in which the JTA has operated over the years with different administrations should make it abundantly clear to rank and file teachers that it is more about making political statements rather than standing up for what teachers really want. In the words of one teacher: "we are being used as guinea pigs in a war we know nothing about."

If it is that clear to teachers: "it is no longer about wages but something else" then rank and file teachers who are now going to suffer for the political decision of 48 delegates, must now think very hard about whether to continue with this current leadership of the JTA or form a new union. I would suggest forming a new union.

The JTA has proven time and time again to be a training ground for the political ambitions of its presidents, who have gone on to serve in one way or the other as part of the Peoples National Party (PNP). It's a PNP minded union and not a teacher union looking out for the best interest of its members. It's time the rank and file members realise that.

Each time the PNP is in power the teachers get a wage freeze or very low single digit wage increases, but the JTA has always signed on to those deals. In other words once the PNP is in power, the JTA delegates sell out the rank and file teachers for board positions and such likes from the PNP.

It's full time teachers wise up and stop allowing themselves to be manipulated by politically partisan delegates. Consider teachers all you will lose this month in terms of retroactive monies that all teachers could use to expand their houses or buy something special, and think about who caused that to happen. Think on those things. Think about your child that would say thank you mummy or daddy for that new shoes, books, toys etc and remember it is 48 people that have brought this on you, 48 of them.

It's time to form a new union or call on the ministry of finance and tell them that a group of rank and file teachers want to negotiate directly with them. Think on the retroactive money you have lost this month and look how long you will have to wait to get it. In 2019-2020 and remember it's your union’s leadership that has caused this to happen because of partisan political interest. Think on these things.


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