As the protest for non-payment of salaries continued on Wednesday, teachers picketed outside of the Calder Hall Administrative Complex where the Office of the Chief Secretary is located while some executive members of the Trinidad & Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) met with the Chief Administrator of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Dr. Ellis Burris at his office. Both sides tried to reach agreement on exactly when the Tobago teachers will be paid their arrears. The teachers are owed ‘backpay’ for the period 2008-2011. The meeting followed a protest held by TTUTA on Tuesday outside the offices of the Secretary Gary Melville and his Administrator, Ms. Allison Lawrence of the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport (DEYAS) at Dutch Fort, Scarborough.
After the meeting, Second Vice-President of TTUTA, Orville Carrington said assurances were given by Dr. Burris that some payments could start by mid-July. However, Carrington said they were cautioned by Dr. Burris that challenges remained ahead in that only three auditors are working on the teacher’s pay sheets with more to be added and that releases from the Ministry of Finance have not been received to date.
Carrington said it was unfortunate, but as usual the blame always fall on the lack of resources in Tobago, be it human or capital. TTUTA’s Secretary, Peter Wilson stated that they are no more satisfied with the reason given based on the fact that the CPO reached the agreement last December and that payment was mandated to be paid by the end of June. There was ample time for the THA and the Division to have put the required systems in place to facilitate a timely payment of earnings to the teachers, he added. “We are going to maintain the pressure; that has to be our position, to ensure that they do, in-fact, start by mid-July and we are not going to relent in terms of the kinds of action or pressure that we could apply in that period” Wilson said. TTUTA President, Roustan Job said there have been past situations where certain government ministries had to be paid and night was turned into day to meet the deadlines so he is hoping that what was indicated to them on Wednesday will be honoured.