Following over a year of negotiations with the government, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) will sign a wage agreement to secure salary increases for its 24,000 members.
According to JTA president Nadine Molloy, the government agreed to increase wages in 2008 but did not implement the second year of wage increases that were scheduled for 2009. In response, the JTA formed a wide range of advocacy efforts, including public meetings with teachers across the country and collaborations with other public workers’ unions.
“In effect, the government was going back on the agreement,” Ms Molloy said. She said the JTA objected the government’s “unilateral position on a wage freeze” as opposed to typical industrial bargaining principles and tenets. The position of the government, she said, was “outrageous, inconsistent and totally inconsiderate of the socio economic status and condition of teachers and the public sector workers in general.”
The other professional groups that the JTA cooperated with were the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ), the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA), the Jamaica Police Federation and the Island Special Constabulary Force Association (ISCFA). Together, the five groups make up about 33,000 government employees and more than a quarter of the 110,000 government workers that did not receive the wage increase.
Dr. Adolph Cameron, JTA Secretary General, said this informal alliance was a crucial factor in their success. Dr. Cameron also noted that the alliance made it easier to refuse unsuitable government proposals, such as one propsal that promised wage increases if workers gave up one out of two years of back pay.
Dr. Cameron also commented that the support received from international agencies and partner organisations, such as Educatino International and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), were strong assets to JTA's campaign.
The wage increases will be implemented in September 2011, and the previous amounts owed will be paid over a 26-month period.