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Thursday 14 December 2017
Commentary

Principals — valued members

Principals — valued members

TTUTA writes a weekly column for the Newsday called TTUTA on Tuesday. 

While TTUTA’s membership of over 11,000 may comprise approximately 500 principals, they are valued members of the association. Since the inception of TTUTA in 1979, principals have always played an integral role in the growth and development of the association.

Principals have served at all levels of the association — as staff representatives, on district executives, as delegates to the annual conference of delegates, general council and central executive and even as national officers. In fact, six out of the eight presidents of TTUTA have been principals, serving for almost 30 of the 38 years that the association has been in existence.

While TTUTA was recognised as the majority union for members of the Teaching Service by an Act of Parliament in 1981 and prides itself on being a professional organisation, despite having a strong and vibrant industrial relations presence, it has consistently encouraged and supported the three principals’ organisations that were essentially formed to assist in the professional well-being of their members.

TTUTA has always tried to foster and maintain cordial relationships with the National Primary Schools Principals Association, the Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools and the Association of Principals of Public Assisted Secondary Schools.

In recent years, TTUTA has made concerted efforts to deepen the relationship by treating them as the valued stakeholders they are. The presence of these organisations at official functions of the association and at meetings between the Ministry of Education and TTUTA is now the norm, rather than the exception.

Despite the association’s best efforts, some principals are of the notion that TTUTA does not represent their interests. This belief apparently stems from the fact that TTUTA, from time to time, intervenes in grievances at schools involving principals and teachers, seeking the interests of the aggrieved teachers. The association is duty bound to do so as there is a negotiated grievance procedure between the Chief Personnel Officer and TTUTA.

Step I of the grievance procedure mandates that the grievance be taken up with the principal, who is the representative of the ministry. However, when principals are the aggrieved party, TTUTA has been steadfast in its defence of them.

Recently there have been a few high-profile incidents in some of schools involving principals, resulting in these principals being the subjects of disciplinary action. TTUTA has been providing advice and representation to these principals within its established policies.

All principals who are members of the association can be assured that they will have the fullest support and representation, if required. This is their right as a member of TTUTA. Additionally, throughout the years TTUTA has vigorously sought to improve the terms and conditions of service of principals. They now enjoy vastly improved salaries that are close to the market value of similar jobs in the public and private sectors.

TTUTA has negotiated a commuted travelling allowance for all principals, while those in secondary schools now enjoy revised vacation arrangements.

TTUTA has also made the jobs of principals less demanding by advocating for direct funding, improved conditions of schools and has successfully negotiated for support staff such as senior teachers, deans, heads of department and business operations assistants.

Principals are undoubtedly valued members of TTUTA. They have contributed immensely to the growth and development of the association. The association will continue to work collaboratively with all principals to ensure that our beloved union continues to grow from strength to strength and our education system improves.

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