State Minister Says JTA Will Support Historic MOU


State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Senator Noel Monteith has expressed confidence that the Jamaica Teachers’ Association will eventually lend its support to the recently signed historical Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between the government and trade unions representing the public sector.
“As a past president of the JTA, I understand their methods of doing things and I feel very confident that after their consultation with their members, that the JTA will come on board. I do not believe that the teachers of Jamaica could afford not to be a part of this very historic event,” he said, during Friday’s (Feb. 20) sitting of the Senate where members voiced their support for the agreement.
The floor was opened by Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator A.J Nicholson, on the motion of adjournment.
Senator Monteith stated that government should be highly commended on its persistence in trying to arrive at this consensus over the years. He said the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) had shown a very high level of maturity in their approach to arrive at a solution that was in the best interest of the country. He took the opportunity to extend congratulations to Opposition Senator and Vice President of the JCTU, Dwight Nelson on the very pivotal role he had personally played in the matter, despite coming under pressure.
“Jamaica is faced with the most challenging time ever in the life of our nation. It is only when education becomes a passport to a life of social and economic wellbeing and become a ticket to meaningful jobs that we will see great respect for education and major improvements in the level of discipline in our schools and in our society,” Senator Monteith noted, adding, “If we are going to solve these problems and create an environment of discipline and striving for excellence in our schools and society, we are going to have to as a people, unite around the objectives of reviving our economy and increasing our rate of employment”.
Pointing out that this was what the MOU would attempt to do, he said, “we will have to do a better job of providing jobs for our people and hope for our young people. This will only be done if we realize that we are all in this thing together. Every facet of our national life is interrelated and we will all have to play our part and do it with the urgency that the situation demands”.
Senator Monteith also made an urgent call on the private sector to come on board. He particularly implored supermarkets and other consumer based businesses to “kindly put a restrain on prices”.
Meanwhile, Senator Trevor Munroe said it was easy to speak of cutting the public sector as had been the widespread position in some quarters before the signing of the MOU, however, the human element had to be taken into account. “There was that choice between redundancy and pain and suffering on the one hand and restraint with sacrifice but with developmental possibilities on the other hand. When the trade unions leadership looked at that choice, we had no alternative but to say that in the interest of the workers and the interest of Jamaica, the MOU had to be negotiated, it had to be agreed upon,” he stated.
The government Senator also implored employees to not only express their congratulations on the agreement in words, but to also allow workers the right to freedom of association with trade unions. “While we highly appreciate expressions of congratulations and words of appreciation, we look forward to the deeds that will follow these words in order to ensure that the sacrifice is productive and not in vain,” Senator Munroe said.
He also pointed out that complaints being made to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security concerning breaches of worker rights including maternity and termination and redundancy issues, had increased significantly over the years.
The MOU was signed on February 16 by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson; the Attorney-General, Senator A.J. Nicholson; Minister of Labour and Social Security, Horace Dalley; Senator Dwight Nelson, Vice President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), among others.
Under the MOU, wage contracts to come into effect during the period April 1, 2002 to March 31, 2004 and for which there have not yet been any arrangements are to be settled strictly within a wage bill increase of three per cent.
Further details of the document can be accessed at www.jis.gov.jm or go directly to: http://www.jis.gov.jm/special_sections/MemorandumOfUnderstanding.pdf

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