June 6, 2008
Talks continue on reclassification

The teachers’ union and the government still have differences as they continue discussions on the reclassification process, but the Union says that talks continue.{{more}}

Despite what has been described as some double digit differences in the recommendations for the R-2 salary bands, Union executives, at a media briefing last Tuesday, said that “the ball is rolling” on the negotiations.

Talks have been ongoing between representatives of the Public Service Union, the Teachers’ Union and officials from the government, as the July date for the implementation of the R-2 salary bands draws nigh.

Following January’s R-1 implementation, the Teachers’ Union, voicing their members’ dissatisfaction at the R-1 salary bands, called out its members on a two-day strike on January 9 and 10, dubbed “days of rest and reflection.”

The action taken by the teachers disappointed Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who, in a press conference the following week, suggested that if workers in the public service, including the teachers and society at large, felt that he had betrayed them by the way the reclassification exercise had been implemented, he would resign from office.

But Teachers’ Union president Joy Matthews is now saying that she is convinced that “there was too much rush” into the R-1 phase, so while differences still prevail, it is important that the process be taken one step at a time.

This may mean a pushing back of the planned July 1 date of implementation.

“It may go longer than July,” Matthews said.

She said that the unions have given a counter proposal to the government, seeing that they could not agree with what was being offered, and now they await word from the government’s side.

Matthews said, however, that there has been an agreement on the length of time for the operation of the appellate committee, following implementation of the new salary bands.

The appellate committee was set up to adjudicate any appeal that is made about the rating of a particular job, following the reclassification process.

The committee will be in operation for up to three months following implementation. Additionally, the unions can have representation at particular hearings, and will be furnished with a report of the judgments of the committee.

She also sought to allay fears, which have been muttered by some, that negotiations are going on without the blessing of the wider teaching body.

“We will never agree to anything without the membership’s input,” Matthews said. (KJ)