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Teachers Want 20% Pay Hike

BUT president Belinda Wilson.

BUT president Belinda Wilson.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

WHEN the Bahamas Union of Teachers sits to negotiate its new industrial agreement with the government, a 20 percent pay increase over three years will be among the union’s demands, BUT president Belinda Wilson has revealed.

Teachers, Mrs Wilson insisted, deserve this raise as they serve in a profession that requires a bachelor’s degree prior to permanent employment at entry level.

The union leader said a higher cost of living is another reason why teachers need a raise.

Education Minister Jeff Lloyd confirmed his ministry was working on a counter proposal to the union’s demands.

However, he said, their demands had to be contextualised with the requests of other unions, adding that for too long issues like these have been one-sided.

He said the country needed to move to a point where accountability is also factored into union negotiations. Nonetheless, he said, the raise could only be considered as far as the country’s finances allow.

The pay raise for educators was featured in a proposed industrial agreement presented to Mr Lloyd seven months ago on June 20, 2018.

The union, Mrs Wilson said, is waiting for the government’s counter proposal. A date has not yet been set for negotiations, although the union does expect for talks to begin this month, she said.

Asked if she believed the demand for more money was reasonable, Mrs Wilson said she did not view it as “exorbitant”. The most recent pay raise for teachers was in 2016.

“First of all it should be noted that in order for a teacher to be employed, the level of qualifications has to be a bachelor’s degree. So teachers for the most part have this and it is called a first degree,” she told The Tribune. “We are among the few that require that at an entry level.

“If you look at a lawyer who has an LLB the equivalent to a bachelor’s, they would start about $4,000 plus more than a teacher who has the same. So I don’t think it’s exorbitant.

“Also there has been a value added tax increase implemented since the last raise and the cost of living increased. I believe that it is reasonable.”

She also said: “The minister also talks a lot about how other education systems are doing like Finland and Singapore, but they are paid at a higher level. Finland’s teachers are paid on the same scale as medical doctors.”

In response to the demand for more money, the minister said more must be expected.

During an address in 2017 to newly appointed teachers Mr Lloyd pledged to increase the salaries of teachers “to match the role educators play in society” as well as provide scholarships to instructors seeking to obtain master’s degrees and PhDs.

“I am on record as saying teachers should be the highest paid but I am also on record as saying they have to be accountable,” Mr Lloyd told The Tribune when contacted for this report. “When you look at the graduation rate, should teachers also be accountable? They should be accountable when they are in a classroom, six or seven hours a day. But they don’t want to take that responsibility on. They will say it is everyone’s responsibility.

“Are graduation rates going to improve? Will students at third grade level read better? You see where I am going with this? What is going to improve?”

More money is not the only element the union is seeking.

According to Mrs Wilson the BUT wants a significant change to the system.

“We know it cannot be changed overnight. This is our fourth industrial agreement. The first one was presented to the government in 2005 and in the fourth there is a repeat of some of the issues.

“For example the career path and special development of teachers this was initiated for years where we would be able to have the best and most experienced in the classroom and promotion to senior and master and have training while they remain in the class.

“So for eight or nine years they have not had a promotion to senior teacher or master teacher so something like that that has always been in our agreements. We now just want to see that done because it strengthens the system.”

The union also wants to implement changes to the way at risk youth are handled.

“What we are asking is instead of them being sent home or walking about the street when there is a suspension, apart from receiving counselling and attention from pastors, teachers would be able to send along the work. So you would go there for behavioural changes, but you won’t lose out on academic work.

“What is in place now has not been working and it’s having a negative impact.”

The union also wants curriculum revision, Mrs Wilson said.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months ago

Wilson would have us believe that existing teachers in the Bahamas should be paid much more so that they would become incentivized to provide the same quality of teaching that their higher paid counterparts provide in Finland and Singapore. Now that's got to be the joke of the day...."No", better still, the year to date! LMAO

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sheeprunner12 3 months ago

Teachers work miracles within the broken system that they are forced to work now ......... But the Negro policy makers seem paralyzed to change the 200 year old colonial system or to get rid of the inequitable public/private system that has reinforced an elitist society based on income, class, colour, and family links.

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joeblow 3 months ago

Her arguments are juvenile and ignorant! Can we get a 20% increase in productivity from them?

We need a way to reward deserving teachers based on students performance. If we can do that I would be in favor of up to a 100% increase to deserving teachers!

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DDK 3 months ago

"The pay raise for educators was featured in a proposed industrial agreement presented to Mr Lloyd seven months ago on June 20, 2018."

Why was this not dealt with during the summer so as not to affect the children's education? That might have been the SMART thing to do or did Government, teachers and unionists not wish to disturb their vacations?

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sheeprunner12 3 months ago

You don't understand how Government and unions negotiate ......... this is normal

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DDK 3 months ago

Does not make it right. Perhaps it is one of the systems that should be changed! On a bright note, at least The Paper has found a more flattering picture of the unionist.

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TalRussell 3 months ago

Yes, or no ma comrade DDK, flashback Imperial crown minister Desmond's axin' former chairwoman's BPL's over alleged spending make-up services for $350 photo taking just hairdo makeover... imagine the cut-ass firing minister Desmond would do for a picture takin' preparation one includes complete full out old body's into new dress up experience makeover'? ( Can't just make this up }.

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DDK 3 months ago

Your thoughts run in hilarious tangents, Comrade! Ya can' just make it up!

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TalRussell 3 months ago

Yes, or no - while no denying our comrade teachers are much underpaid to the disgraceful degree whereby there are teaches forced seek government financial social assistance just help cover their basic monthly expenses - I still maintain that it makes no sense PeoplesPublicPurse to increase funding to a long ago broken and outdated educational system. Yes, no maybe its time permanently close up shop today's format classrooms to move away from requiring students attend daily classes at physical classrooms.The days when comrade Cecil Wallace could play a forward, leading role in modernising classroom development have long expired. Time cut off funding and deliver today's end-of use educational system to teachers graveyard.

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akbar 3 months ago

This just a case of economics. You may have a degree but you work in a system where it is "free service" in concept. A lawyer has clients who pay for their services therefor they can set their prices with profit in mind. Education is basically free, not a significant revenue generator.Public Health care services designed for minimum cost. So when these folks start asking for raises it hard pressing to give it to them.

I understand we all need to live but these governments need to stop being so concerned about votes and stop being so patronizing and the employees in the public service sectors need to grow up. The utility corps may not be making profits but they in a business which generates revenue,poor management has put them in dire states. When run right it is responsible for employees to ask for increases. With near free services only so much a stretched Public Treasury can do.

My question is how will these pay increases improve education?

We talk about accountiablity for politicians but where is the accountability for public service workers?

The Union allowed the Ministry to make the Natinal grade point average a measuring stick (which is flawed in so many ways and may actually help in breeding failure)for students..well that is a measuring stick for them too whether they like it or not.

Poor student results....poor performing teachers.. no raise.

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TalRussell 3 months ago

Yes, or no ma comrade Akbar, you're not suggesting you cannot advocate better student grades and paying teachers a "living wage" at same time? Yes, no... no teacher should be dependent on financial social assistance to meet their family's most basic livable requirements?

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akbar 3 months ago

You really shouldn't compare yourself to your counterparts in other regions. Yes you may have the same qualifications but they live in regions where their educational system is effecient and these countries have higher standards of living and vibrant economies..so in Bahamanese ..money in town. These places have lotteries, private subsidies etc to help with education. Also they have performance based incentive sytems (which can hurt or harm but at least they there).Such comparison and argument is infantile and old.

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joeblow 3 months ago

... and don't forget taxes, lots of them!!

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akbar 3 months ago

Whenever a union president is hanging on for leadership they like to talk pay increases to rile up union support...and sadly it usually works.

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sheeprunner12 3 months ago

Every time the teachers get a raise ......... the BUT President gets a raise. She has a horse in the race.

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TigerB 3 months ago

I think she said she is planning to build a new building soon behind the old BUT building in Nassau. She is at work again spending them people money

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sheeprunner12 3 months ago

And the amount of union dues goes up with every pay increase .... all tied in. More money for the Union bosses to wallow in .......... SMT

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birdiestrachan 3 months ago

What ever Belinda wants. Belinda gets.

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sealice 3 months ago

the teachers that can't provide us with anything but "D" for dumbars students want a raise??? Get the GPA up then we'll see about a raise....

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