Teachers on Edge! Some feel ‘dissed’ by delayed monthly salaries Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

As thousands of teachers remain on edge about when they will receive their monthly salaries, the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is calling on the Government to cover all late fees and penalties that persons might incur as a result of their salaries not being paid on time.

For Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Julian Robinson, the Government must also state “definitively” when the educators and other public servants will receive their March salaries.

Teachers are among several civil servants who are reportedly restive after not receiving their salaries and retroactive sums under the compensation review programme at the close of the business day on Friday.

Following days of sick-outs and sit-ins in early March, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) signed off on the Government’s compensation review, despite its current President, La Sonja Harrison, reportedly refusing to sign the agreement for reasons that are still unclear.

JTA President-elect, Leighton Johnson, signed off on the deal with the Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, as was reportedly directed by Harrison.

The Ministry of Education, in a bulletin to bursar-paid schools on Friday, committed to working through the weekend to ensure the salaries are reflected in teachers’ accounts by the “earliest possible time”.

The ministry explained that given the “gravity of the process to accurately convert, calculate, approve and upload the retroactive and new salaries in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, we will not be able to advance the salaries for all those schools by the date previously communicated.”

That previous date was Friday, March 24.

However, some educators say that it is not only teachers who are employed to bursar-paid schools who are affected by the non-payment of salaries.

“Many of the teachers who I communicate with from St Ann, Portland, St Mary, St Catherine, have not been paid up to Saturday evening,” one secondary school teacher told Loop News on condition of anonymity.

She explained that while she supports Robinson’s call for the Government to cover some of the late fees from loans that will be incurred by some of her colleagues, she believed that some teachers cannot hold out for much longer.

“Teachers have student loans, mortgages, bank loans, etcetera, so it is very disrespectful, I believe, for our employers to say they will pay us in the earliest possible time.

“We have obligations, we work hard, but the question I have to ask is, how are we going to go to school on Monday and for the rest of the week because we have no money?” she stated.

Another teacher said it is “unacceptable” that a definitive date has not been given by the Government for the payment of the salaries.

Julian Robinson

“I have to wonder if we are being punished for the sick-outs that took place earlier in month, because this is just gross disrespect to not receive our salaries, because right now I am not even interested in the retro(active payment),” she insisted.

In noting that she has several dependents, she said she has been forced to delay certain financial obligations in order to “stretch what little I have”.

When ask whether she will be returning to school on Monday if payment is not received, she indicated that she would make an effort to do so.

“I am committed, but even if we cannot get our retro, pay us our salaries, because the truth is, some of us as teachers live pay cheque to pay cheque,” she said.

Some teachers also took to social media platforms to express their frustration with the non-payment of salaries.

“I’ve been refreshing my account from week and no salary. This is wickedness, trust me!” commented a senior educator on Facebook.

“I feel so disrespected by the Government as a senior teacher, because where is our regular monthly pay?” asked a male senior educator.

There are some educators who say their pay slips were uploaded on Friday and Saturday, but were subsequently removed, leaving many of them even further uneasy and confused.

Former Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) president, Owen Speid, who now resides overseas, posted on Facebook that, “So many dedicated Jamaican teachers texting me this morning to say they’ve received no salary yet.

“Is it that Massa Nigel (Clarke) dishing out punishment for the one-day protest?” Speid asked on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in a statement from the PNP on Saturday, its Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Julian Robinson, said: “It’s unconscionable that so many civil servants have not been paid and do not know when they will be paid.

“You have people who have obligations to pay their rent, their mortgages, to buy food, and there has been no definitive communication on when salaries will be paid,” he stated.

Robinson said he understands that calculations are being made to ensure that persons receive their updated salaries.

“… But there is really no excuse that people have not been properly communicated with about when they’re going to receive their salaries, given the obligations that they have, and given the climate we’re in, where people really survive on a month-to-month basis,” he stated.