Staff liken VTDI, NCTVET transition to arranged marriage
Ministry insists workers will be ‘well protected’
Dr Maureen Dwyer, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY), has confirmed that the process to offer employment to workers at the Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI) and the National Council on Technical...
Dr Maureen Dwyer, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY), has confirmed that the process to offer employment to workers at the Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI) and the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) at the ministry is well advanced and could take effect on April 1.
In a Gleaner interview last week, Dwyer said that final steps are being made for the transition to follow, but the ministry is making sure that the workers are “well protected”.
Asked about the process, Dwyer said that the ministry met with the board of the VTDI last week.
She disclosed that a new board has been installed, noting that “it has to be a new board because it is now a public education institution and consideration for the governance arrangement is slightly different from what they had before”.
“We have spoken about that and we have arranged for training. So when I talk about little details, people don’t understand that you can’t just pick up a board here and fling it over there, because it won’t fit. We have to go and get a new legal arrangement. We had to go and get certain things gazetted – all these things that people don’t see, but they matter,” she pointed out.
However, as the process inches towards the April 1 transition deadline, there is growing anxiety and mounting concerns among workers at VTDI and NCTVET about critical issues not yet discussed with them.
One member of staff at the VTDI described the transition process as being akin to an “arranged marriage”, where the workers at the training institutions are to be offered employment at the education ministry but have not had an input in relation to the terms and conditions of employment.
Further, one worker, who spoke to The Gleaner on condition of anonymity, said one of the major concerns of the workers is that the staff at both agencies have not been provided with any details as to whether their pension would be transferred to the ministry or whether there would be a redundancy exercise.
When The Gleaner raised some of the concerns of the workers with Dwyer, she noted that those concerns must be a singular view, adding that one of the guiding principles of this process is that the workers will be taken care of.
“Anyone who expresses that is someone that has not been listening carefully,” she said.
“If we were going to be slapdash about it, then we would not be going through the level of details we are going through. The workers will be taken care of,” she insisted.
“Not one worker will be worse off. It is a principle of the public service. People have to get their benefits. We are not in the business of depriving people of what they should get,” the permanent secretary added.
Earlier this month, officials from the MOEY had separate meetings with the VTDI and NCTVET staff, who reportedly informed them that a job offer would be made to workers shortly and that they would have seven days to accept or reject employment at the ministry.
“We have yet to receive any communication from HEART/NSTA Trust,” one worker told The Gleaner, noting that the employees were still being paid by HEART.
The Gleaner understands that there are about 70 workers at VTDI and 45 at NCTVET.
With some members of staff working with the agencies for more than two decades, concerns are being raised that, after the job offer is made, a probationary period of six months will be given, after which a determination will be made as to whether they will be offered a post.