General News of Saturday, 17 November 2018
Government has resolved not to pay November salaries of striking teachers in the various public teacher trainee colleges in the country.
It has consequently directed all principals of public Colleges of Education not to validate the November salaries of the teachers who have been accused of embarking on “unwarranted and illegal strike” for the past three weeks.
The teachers have since October 29 stayed off the classroom over issues with their market premium and book and research allowance which have been on the negotiation table.
According to the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), at the time of the teachers declared their strike, progress had been made and as a sign of good faith, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission had offered a 5 per cent mark up on the current retention premium of the teachers.
The offer, which was given the teachers on October 26, 2018, also included an undertaking to reopen the negotiations in early 2019 to explore options for enhancing the allowance and capturing it in the subsequent national budget.
The teachers who form the Colleges of Education Teachers Association (CETAG) was said to have indicated to the FWSC they needed to revert to their members the offer and report back.
However, on October 29, 2018 when the colleges of education were to reopen for the 2018/2019 academic year, CETAG announced its members had embarked on strike.
“The strike was totally unwarranted and illegal,” a November 16, 2018 letter issued by the NCTE to all principals of the colleges of education stated.
“It was unwarranted because the issues raised were the subject of ongoing negotiations and illegal because the required due process for declaring a strike, even if CETAG has good cause to do so, was not followed,” it explained.
The National Labour Commission was subsequently petitioned by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to call the teachers to order over the illegal strike.
The NCTE said the Minister of Employment Labour Relations also initiated complementary effort to resolve the impasse.
It culminated in a meeting on November 9, 2018 at which it was agreed that a committee be formed with representation from all stakeholders including CETAG, FWSC and the Ministry of Finance to propose appropriate and lair levels of the Market Premium for CETAG members as well as an implementation framework, having regard to their placement within the tertiary education system.
This Committee had up to November 20, 2018 to submit its report.
“Based on this goodwill gesture, which was literally bending over backwards to accommodate the demands of CETAG, an appeal was again issued to them to call off the strike action.
“Sadly, in only a day or two after the said meeting CETAG having initially given indication again that they were going to consult their constituents on the developments, reverted to say they were not interested in participating in the work of the committee and resolved to push ahead with the illegal strike”.
In view of the posturing of the teachers, NCTE said, the Education Minister “has decided that salaries of all striking CETAG members must not be validated for the month of November” until the strike is called off.