IN THE first major industrial relation act for the new year, officials from the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) will today sit down with the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) to discuss improved salaries for the nation’s 15,000 teachers.
The sit-down comes three years after TTUTA submitted proposals to the CPO for a new collective agreement. The meeting is scheduled for 9.30 am at the CPO’s St Vincent Street, Port of Spain office and TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai will be leading the negotiating team in discussions for a new collective agreement for the period October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2017.
Doodhai assured whatever the outcome of today’s meeting, teachers will be out to work on Monday at the start of the new term, as only the General Council can sanction any form of action. He said at the last general council meeting, a decision was taken for teachers to wear red as a symbol of dissatisfaction with the status of negotiations.
He called on teachers to continue to wear red until there is an amicable solution.
He said while they have had regular meetings and discussions with the CPO on terms and conditions for teachers, they have had zero meetings on salary negotiations as the CPO’s office awaited instructions from the office of the Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert.
He accused the CPO’s office of using stalling tactics over the years, saying they have provided proposals for salary and non-salary items, plus clarification on the creation and institution of a master teacher, yet nothing has been done in terms of counter proposals from the CPO.
Doodhai said he is going into the meeting with optimism. “The period for which we will be negotiating has already gone by. We are now in the second year of this new period and come October 1, we will be in the third and final year of that period, yet 2014-2017 is still outstanding,” Doodhai said.
He said teachers are living on 2014 salaries and given the tough economic time with little growth expected in the economy, they are entitled to and deserve a better package. He assured that the union will be reasonable in its approach and hopes the groups can have amicable discussions for a speedy settlement.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia, himself a former TTUTA president, could not be reached yesterday for comment as calls to his cellular phone went unanswered.