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Teachers frustrated with no communication from the Ministry of Education

Teachers under the Montserrat Union of Teachers (MUT) have, in a surprising if not unusual move invited the press to tell them of the union’s disappointment and frustration over the Ministry of Education’s alleged unwillingness to address health and safety hazards within the schools, salaries and training for teachers.

The press conference took place last Thursday November 23, 2017 at the Police Conference centre. where representatives of the teachers’ union say the Caribbean Union of Teachers is providing them with advice on how to move forward.

The Montserrat teachers say they are alarmed over the apparent unresponsiveness of officials regarding teachers’ concerns that were communicated to the Ministry of Education several times since January this year.

President Miss Denise Silcott

Miss Denise Silcott is the president of the MUT and with her other representatives explain: The current Executive Officers of the Montserrat Union of Teachers (MUT) were elected in November 2016. They then consulted with teachers in December 2016 and had an audience with the Minister of Education, Permanent Secretary and Director of Education in January. During this conference, they reported that they have received no substantive response from the Ministry.

Among the many issues they communicated with the Ministry are: For example, broken fences and windows, safety of stairs that are “slippery”; the longstanding need to replace the Brades Primary school’s bathroom, repairs to the roof of Salem Nursery School, inadequate pay, the need to recognise teachers as professionals, provision of training for untrained teachers, teachers being on probationary status for up to five years; a draft code of ethics that was based on the OECS code; their request for a salary increase of fifteen (15) percent given accumulated inflation over the years, and much more. 

Vice President Miss Jose White

As part of the list: teachers who are on a prolonged probationary status are blocked from getting bank loans for a house or the like, and this is part of why they request urgent action for such teachers.

They explained in addition, where also, if annual performance reports are delayed by superiors, teachers cannot get increments. Some of these specific concerns have indeed come up as line-items in the June 9, 2017 Budget or in the November 23, 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill, but the teachers’ key concern is the lack of regular two-way communication.

Secretary Miss Charliena White

As recently as October 2, MUT again says they wrote the officials. They requested a timeline for action but received no response. However, the teacher’s report, people have been observed inspecting some of the broken fences and the like.

On October 25, the MUT wrote a follow up letter, but again there has been no response up to November 23.

In the press conference, Miss Silcott, MUT President, argued that of the various challenges, “communication is the easiest to fix” and that if it is fixed “others will fall into place.”

Teachers – who are Civil Servants in Montserrat – received the recent 3% salary increase announced in the June 9, 2017 Budget presentation. In addition, some have received the additional 7 – 10% increase for those at the lowest levels of the Public Service. However, the MUT leadership reports that such an increase is grossly insufficient. For example, they note, a $132 per month “three percent” increase is subject to tax and is much less than the cumulative impact of inflation over the years. They also argue that if Montserrat’s teachers were recognised as professionals, they would be eligible for increments and allowances that come with that status. This is a part of the reason why the teachers have submitted a draft professional code of conduct and are awaiting the Ministry’s response.

Public Relations Officer (PRO) Ritchlyn Duke-Hackett

While the Ministry says little or ‘no comment’ except that ‘a response would be provided to the media in due course, the teachers say, “The easiest one of the lot to me, (Silcott) to fix is the communication issue. If the communication issue is fixed then the others would automatically fall in place. That is what you’ve noticed from what we’ve said is that we have highlighted these things it’s not that we don’t want to work with the ministry, we’re not hearing from them.”

The MUT leaders say strike action is not on their agenda, noting that under the General Orders, teachers, nurses and police are forbidden from taking strike action, so they are publicising their concerns and are appealing for support.

One Response to “Teachers frustrated with no communication from the Ministry of Education”

  1. Anon says:

    That is sad. They should strike

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

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Teachers under the Montserrat Union of Teachers (MUT) have, in a surprising if not unusual move invited the press to tell them of the union’s disappointment and frustration over the Ministry of Education’s alleged unwillingness to address health and safety hazards within the schools, salaries and training for teachers.

The press conference took place last Thursday November 23, 2017 at the Police Conference centre. where representatives of the teachers’ union say the Caribbean Union of Teachers is providing them with advice on how to move forward.

The Montserrat teachers say they are alarmed over the apparent unresponsiveness of officials regarding teachers’ concerns that were communicated to the Ministry of Education several times since January this year.

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President Miss Denise Silcott

Miss Denise Silcott is the president of the MUT and with her other representatives explain: The current Executive Officers of the Montserrat Union of Teachers (MUT) were elected in November 2016. They then consulted with teachers in December 2016 and had an audience with the Minister of Education, Permanent Secretary and Director of Education in January. During this conference, they reported that they have received no substantive response from the Ministry.

Among the many issues they communicated with the Ministry are: For example, broken fences and windows, safety of stairs that are “slippery”; the longstanding need to replace the Brades Primary school’s bathroom, repairs to the roof of Salem Nursery School, inadequate pay, the need to recognise teachers as professionals, provision of training for untrained teachers, teachers being on probationary status for up to five years; a draft code of ethics that was based on the OECS code; their request for a salary increase of fifteen (15) percent given accumulated inflation over the years, and much more. 

Vice President Miss Jose White

As part of the list: teachers who are on a prolonged probationary status are blocked from getting bank loans for a house or the like, and this is part of why they request urgent action for such teachers.

They explained in addition, where also, if annual performance reports are delayed by superiors, teachers cannot get increments. Some of these specific concerns have indeed come up as line-items in the June 9, 2017 Budget or in the November 23, 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill, but the teachers’ key concern is the lack of regular two-way communication.

Secretary Miss Charliena White

As recently as October 2, MUT again says they wrote the officials. They requested a timeline for action but received no response. However, the teacher’s report, people have been observed inspecting some of the broken fences and the like.

On October 25, the MUT wrote a follow up letter, but again there has been no response up to November 23.

In the press conference, Miss Silcott, MUT President, argued that of the various challenges, “communication is the easiest to fix” and that if it is fixed “others will fall into place.”

Teachers – who are Civil Servants in Montserrat – received the recent 3% salary increase announced in the June 9, 2017 Budget presentation. In addition, some have received the additional 7 – 10% increase for those at the lowest levels of the Public Service. However, the MUT leadership reports that such an increase is grossly insufficient. For example, they note, a $132 per month “three percent” increase is subject to tax and is much less than the cumulative impact of inflation over the years. They also argue that if Montserrat’s teachers were recognised as professionals, they would be eligible for increments and allowances that come with that status. This is a part of the reason why the teachers have submitted a draft professional code of conduct and are awaiting the Ministry’s response.

Public Relations Officer (PRO) Ritchlyn Duke-Hackett

While the Ministry says little or ‘no comment’ except that ‘a response would be provided to the media in due course, the teachers say, “The easiest one of the lot to me, (Silcott) to fix is the communication issue. If the communication issue is fixed then the others would automatically fall in place. That is what you’ve noticed from what we’ve said is that we have highlighted these things it’s not that we don’t want to work with the ministry, we’re not hearing from them.”

The MUT leaders say strike action is not on their agenda, noting that under the General Orders, teachers, nurses and police are forbidden from taking strike action, so they are publicising their concerns and are appealing for support.