THA: Back pay for remaining teachers by January 31

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THA Education Secretary Zorisha Hackett –

TOBAGO teachers who have not yet received their back pay will receive it by January 31.

In a media release on Monday, the THA Division of Education, Research and Technology gave its commitment to the new deadline, saying it is on track to be completed. The division said 70 per cent of teachers on the island were paid by December 31, 2023, owing to the dedication and commitment of the staff who went above and beyond the call of duty during the holiday season.

“Although the initial deadline was set with the best of intentions, it became evident that more time was needed to achieve the level of accuracy required for this significant task,” it said.

At a media conference on Monday after a meeting with the division, TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Tobago Officer Bradon Roberts called on the education ministry to provide an update on the back pay promised to Trinidad teachers. He said the claim that 90 per cent of teachers would have been paid by December 31 is not the reality.

“We have been waiting for some years to have negotiations settled. Negotiations has since been settled in May last year and instruction was given for the (education) ministry and the (education) division to start the new salaries and calculate to pay the back pay.”

He said there were some “political promises” about teachers receiving their money before Christmas. He said the ministry through a circular had said that the back pay would be paid on December 19.

“That promise was not met.”

He said in Tobago, the division was asked for an update as the division had said the money would have been paid by December 31.

“I am pleased that the division would have answered that call. They would have expressed their commitment to have it paid before the ending of this month. Some persons – 100 and something more – will get in the coming weeks, and they intend to complete all by the end of this month.

“What they would have issued is that 70 per cent of the teachers would have received their back pay already; so if we have 700 and something teachers, just about 500 and something would have been able to receive their back pay.”

He said the division is also dealing with increments and ex-gratia as he said the teachers appreciate the communication coming from the division. He is calling on the ministry to follow suit.

“Being frustrated, not knowing what is happening and then the ministry or the division isn’t putting out information makes the situation worse. We are grateful for the communication coming out of the division and I am making a call for the ministry to do the same because that 90 per cent thing that they put out is not the reality on the ground, and I trust that they would share the information with the teachers as to what is happening just as the division would have based on the call that we would have made.”