Manchester, St Elizabeth teachers frustrated with salary delays
Several temporary teachers across the parishes of St Elizabeth and Manchester say they are growing weary of months-long salary delays and what they describe as the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information’s disregard for their time and effort.
The teachers, who requested anonymity, said they are often misinformed and inconvenienced after receiving late information concerning the submission of documents for payment to be facilitated.
“I had to wait all of four months to be paid. These are reasons why teachers are leaving the country ... the disrespect. And I want to know why the long wait. When you call the office, you get the runaround and they tell you they don’t know what is happening. It is disgusting!” a teacher told The Gleaner.
The temporary teachers, who have their contracts renewed each year until they can secure permanent status, told The Gleaner that they were not aware that they would not be receiving salaries for the summer period, though they still met work obligations.
“The contract stated that I was to work from September 2020 to August 31, 2021. In July and August, I would have still been working, taking care of documents for students, doing reports and all of that, only to realise that I wouldn’t be receiving any pay for July and August,” said one teacher
With mounting bills, among other responsibilities, the teachers said they are disappointed that the delays have continued into the new school year.
“I checked my account so much last week that my bank may soon block me. Just think about your bills. I am in school continuing my education and my school fee is over $400,000, plus I have other bills. I am still expected to be online to teach and when my Internet goes out, I have to buy data plan. But it’s just because of the children why I do it.”
The regional director of Region 5, which has oversight of the schools in both parishes, Dr Nadine Leachman, said she is not aware of the region having a chronic issue as there are usually delays each year.
“When it comes to the beginning of a school year, we usually have some of these issues because things will come late. Some of the schools are not able to take on persons on time, and so it wouldn’t be processed in time for payment, and we do have some of that every year.”
Leachman said the ministry is currently working overtime to ensure that the issues are resolved. She added that teachers are free to seek clarification at the office on issues they are facing.
“The teachers can speak to us, and their principals would have been doing just that. I think they just need to be calm and give us a chance to work it out, and talk to us if they have an issue,” she added
However, the teachers said that information is not always readily available or clear when they contact the office.
“We received a bulletin that we would be getting paid on Friday, September 24. We got no pay. I contacted the office and heard nothing. It wasn’t until later that we found out that we would be getting September’s pay in October,” said a teacher.
The principal of a popular school in the region said a number of his teachers have been affected, but he understands that the ministry is under pressure.
“Teachers all over Jamaica have been affected and I believe it would have been caused by lockdown days ... persons would not have been in office to follow through with the processing of documents. I explained this to my teachers. A bulletin was sent advising them of the ministry’s plan to work overtime to clear the backlog. It’s a problem that should not have happened, but we know the circumstances, and the ministry said they are working on it,” he said.
The teachers admitted that their motivation to teach under the circumstances is dwindling, and they are only continuing so that students are not negatively affected.