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Perspective: JTA Holding Education Down .. Flexing Their Muscle … Jamaica W.I. …

Vision Newspaper

Photo: EDUCATION MOU: Dr Berry Young (centre), president of Hocking College, USA signs a Memorandum of Understanding at the recent launch of the Occupational Studies Degree Programme in Montego Bay, St. James. Looking on are from left Mr Dean-Roy Bernard, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Minister, Senator Ruel Reid, Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second right), and Dr Cecil Cornwall, chairman of the Joint Committee for Tertiary Education.

No widespread closure of schools nationwide has  happened.”  News reports monitored by Vision Newspaper.

Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid has reported inter alia “Across the Regions island wide, there is no widespread support for the industrial action by the JTA/teachers.”


The powerful 25,000 strong Jamaica Teacher’s Association (JTA) & their union have decided to flex their muscle and hold a knife at the throat of the education system/government.  To have decided to go on sick out to pressure the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). and possibly embarrass the government led by PM Andrew Holness.

Ardainne High School is a prominent Secondary corporate area school which has asked parents and guardians to collect theie students as the school cannot guarantee supervision to all classes. The principal of Ardianne is a former JTA president and is widely believed to be a PNP activist in disguise.

Opposition Leader

Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips said ” teachers are forced to take action …. the public should support the teachers … the breach of collective bargaining practice under the JLP which has been respected  by all governments so far is wrong …. tax relief to large companies and the waiver of the bauxite levy means less money to pay the teachers”


The National Students Council (NSC) condemn the action of the teachers who has withdrawn their services …. “The Council has called on the JTA to return to the bargaining table.”

The Jamaica Teacher’s Union (JTU), the forerunner to the JTA was one of the earliest unofficial affiliates of the People’s National Party (PNP).  So the widespread perception of sympathy for the PNP is not strange and not surprising. The PNP uses the symbol of “The head”.

Not J$5,000 …

The JTA leadership said the J$5,000 per month was not acceptable.

The Education Minister has dismissed the industrial action taken by the JTA’s claim and said ” I am disappointed as I spend a lot of time with the JTA”. In other words there is ongoing communication with the JTA.

Finance Minister

The Finance Minister Audley Shaw said “The actual amount that the teacher would get is not $5,000 but $17,500 monthly or $210, 000 annually. It is not fair to say the amount paid to the,(teachers)/JTA is J$5,000 monthly. The government is prepared to work with the National Housing Trust (NHT) and the teachers JTA), Police & Nurses, to give them improved housing benefits. This would not be allowances or cash benefit from the public purse. Because of the accountability framework with the IMF and the 9 percent wage to GDP agreement we cannot move the retroactive payment to another budget cycle.” This method ofpayment is not abnormal, it was done before. Asserts Audley Shaw, Finance Minister.


The teachers Union in particular is known to be pro PNP and their perceived stubbornness is seen as a disguised political ploy to pressure the government and play into the hands of the Phillips led Opposition PNP.  The Opposition has been deafeningly silent on the issue of the impending industrial action.

Wage Freeze

Ironically, it was the Opposition PNP who asked the public sector
to hold strain with wage freeze.  The JLP has always granted substantial increases of up to 40 percent on average.

The industrial action by the JTA was an abysmal failure as it did not get the desired widespread support.  Good for them.

You can fool the people some of the time, but not all the time.  The workers are grateful for the prosperity under the JLP Led  PM Andrew Holness administration.

What is your perspective? This is ours.

Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior International Correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.

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