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TTUTA condemns treatment of ECCE teachers

Monday, February 25 2013

click on pic to zoom in
Peter Wilson...
Peter Wilson...

The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) has condemned what it calls the continued exploitation of teachers in the Early childhood Care and Education (ECCE) sector by the Ministry of Education.

In a statement, TTUTA general secretary Peter Wilson said after some five years of numerous promises, the ministry was “now trying to bully non-contract teachers into signing three year contracts.”

According to Wilson, the ministry was not giving teachers the opportunity to see their terms and conditions of service under the proposed contracts.

“These non-contact teachers have been working in ECCE centres for many years, in some cases as many as 20 or more years and have laboured to build the ECCE sector. They are currently paid a paltry salary of $2,600 per month even though they met the required qualifications at the time of employment and, in many cases, have now upgraded these qualifications to meet the current requirements of a degree in ECCE,” Wilson said.

He added that the ministry has paid scant courtesy to teachers even as it seeks to formalise the ECCE sector, improve standards and facilities and expand the number of ECCE places.

“Even as the transition into a new system is carried out, the Ministry of Education has dragged its feet in paying proper salaries, bringing the ECCE sector through legislation into the formal education system and Teaching Service, recognising the skills, experience and competencies of these teachers and compensating them for their past service,” the union official noted.

Wilson said the teachers were recently given a deadline of Friday last to indicate acceptance of the contracts with an increased salary of $5,000. “There is an arrogant ‘take it or leave it’ offer to pay for 12 days of every year of past service, which amounts at the previous pay rates to a ridiculously low sum. Of course, there is no guarantee of continued employment after the three year contract,” Wilson said.

He also accused the ministry of trying to force non-contract ECCE teachers into accepting inferior terms of service with no tenure, with a “lure of an increased salary.”

“The Ministry of Education is refusing to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment of these teachers with them or TTUTA, hiding behind the fact that these teachers are not yet part of the formal education establishment,” Wilson said.

He said the ministry was trying to bypass TTUTA on the matter.

“These non-contract ECCE teachers, led by TTUTA, have refused to sign these contracts. TTUTA asserts that the Ministry of Education is exploiting the dedication and experience of these ECCE teachers and is acting as an oppressive employer,” the TTUTA official said.

Wilson is calling on the Education Ministry to engage in meaningful consultation with the ECCE teachers and TTUTA and for proper guidelines to be developed for the transition from the previous arrangement to a full equitable absorption of these teachers into the Teaching Service with proper salaries and suitable terms and conditions of service.

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