Fine, jail for protests
Thursday, September 20 2012
THE Employers’ Consultative Association (ECA) yesterday reminded teachers that they face a $500 fine and/or three months imprisonment if they are found to be in contravention of the Industrial Relations Act by way of staging protests.
The ECA, in a statement yesterday, quoted Section 69 of the Act which states that members of the teaching service shall not take part in any industrial action.
For the past two weeks, teachers have taken action in various ways to protest the lack of progress with salary negotiations with the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO), Stephanie Lewis including two days of ‘rest and reflection’, last week Thursday and Friday. They also participated in a joint trade union movement march in Port-of-Spain on September 7.
The ECA also quoted from the Act which states that the holder of an office in a trade union who calls for or causes industrial action to be taken or any person or organisation who induces or persuades any other person to take such action is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for 18 months.
The ECA urged all parties to adhere to the laws of the land and not unilaterally choose which law(s) it will follow or not follow. They also urged the relevant authorities to ensure that all citizens follow the law.
In response, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Roustan Job said that everytime teachers took action, the ECA always talks about the Act.
He steered away from describing the action taken by teachers as ‘industrial action’, but said the association will continue to do whatever it must to ensure a better pay for teachers.
“We are on a quest for our teachers to get and who deserve proper salaries. We are negotiating with the Government and when we do negotiate, it is either around the table or on the streets. This is how trade unionism has survived throughout the years,” Job said.
Meanwhile, Job also responded to claims made by the Ministry of Education that the ‘rest and reflection’ days off from work taken by teachers last week had delayed the distribution of laptops to Form One students.
He described that Ministry statement as “ludicrous” and explained there can be no major delay with the distribution. “If teachers take action, and in this case it was only two days, when they return (to classes) the distribution can continue. So that statement is absolutely ludicrous,” Job said.