Union condemns non-payment of teacher increment

POSTED: 09/6/13 4:37 PM

St. Maarten – Although teachers are working with a new salary structure, the annual increments they receive within their salary scale remains the same. The increase of sorts is usually paid out by August 30 every year but this year things appear different.
According to president of the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) Claire Elshot, teachers are still    waiting to receive their increment.
“As a union I must denounce that there are people and school boards that are implementing things they feel it should be. By August 1, the teachers should get an automatic increment within in the salary scales and would be reflected at the end of the month in your August pay. A number of teachers have not seen this.”
Elshot said once the issue is denounced the union usually visits or writes to the school board to point out the error with the expectation that it is corrected. But this is not an occurrence that is limited to subsidized schools only.
“We have cases in public education where we had to wait for 7 months behind and once it was corrected, the retroactive was given without us having to call teachers away from their work.”
An evaluation system is not yet in place but Elshot recommended that school boards conduct their own evaluations. However the evaluation should not lead to teachers being locked out of the increment if there is no general policy in place, she contends.
“It should not be the decision of anyone to freeze a teacher in their salary,” Elshot said with the exception of a specific group of teachers who were wrongly placed in the old salary structure and when they transferred to the new structure, it was observed that their salaries were too high.  Recommendations were then made to have this specific group of educators upgrade their qualifications or have their salaries frozen.
The salary scales to which Elshot referred has 20 steps for each category and as an educator completes each step annually, they are entitled to the increment. She accused school boards of unilaterally taking decision to freeze salaries.
“It is strange that school boards would be able to conduct evaluations to tell you of different faults to be able to marginalize the teacher by saying they are not going to get an increment.
We have salary scales with different rules and regulations but the most important part that is due to the teachers is being taken away silently,” the union leader said.

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