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Councillor slams ‘bullyism’ in teacher compensation talks

Published:Monday | March 13, 2023 | 1:09 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer

“Bullyism and badmanism” was how People’s National Party (PNP) councillors attending last Thursday’s general meeting of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation described the Government’s approach to the public-sector compensation review.

Last week, classes at public schools across the island were disrupted by protest action as the teachers rejected the Government’s offer.

On Sunday, the teachers voted to accept a revised offer.

Last Thursday, Mount Industry Division Councillor Roogae Kirlew, who is also principal of the Spanish Town Primary School, charged that such tactics would not work as he urged the Government to return to the negotiating table.

“I want to send a signal that exams are due in March and April, and if they are planning for teachers to lock down the education system, then they can they can try,” said Kirlew.

“I want to appeal to them to stop the bullyism, stop the badmanism, and sit at the table with teachers for meaningful dialogue,” he continued.

According to the councillor, the teachers had been holding strain for a long time and they cannot cope any longer.

“The time has come for teachers in Jamaica to be seen as the foundation and the bedrock of the society and there must be equity in the compensation package,” Kirlew argued.

He cited a disparity between graduates and senior teachers, who have been in the system for a considerable period of time, and those freshly coming out of teacher’s college all getting the same pay under that offer.

“After all these sacrifices, teachers should be paid a liveable wage commensurate with the ever-rising cost of living,” Kirlew said to thunderous applause from his counterparts at the meeting.

His criticism of the Government did not sit well with Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Councillor Leroy Dunn of the Guy’s Hill Division, who accused Kirlew of spewing falsehood.

“We should be proud of the astute leadership of the minister of finance, when we look at where the economy was before and during COVID and where it is now,” Dunn said.