Members of TTUTA protest outside COSTAATT office on Melville Lane in Port-of- Spain, yesterday.

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) An­to­nia Tekah-De Fre­itas is threatening “fire” for authorities if more is not done to meet their demands for better conditions for the nation’s teachers and lecturers.

“Smoke in front, fire behind. That is the next step. We will not sit by anymore. Educators need to stand up now,” Tekah-De Fre­itas told the media at a TTUTA protest at COSTAATT’s office, Melville Lane Campus.

She said COSTAATT lecturers are being taken advantage of by officials and their protest was meant to highlight their frustration with the situation.

“The part-time lecturers at COSTAATT have been threatened and intimidated by the College. There are some lecturers who are members of TTUTA but we do not have representative bargaining status for them. Persons are being asked to perform extra duties without pay, there are no contracts for some lecturers. Persons are receiving salaries late.”

She said the Minister of Education has refused to meet with TTUTA to deal with the issues that the College faces.

“They are targeting workers in the country. We are realising that they are targeting education workers. If T&T is serious about national development then you have to ensure that your educational professionals are paid properly.”

She said that as a trade union TTUTA will not allow that type of “oppression” and that COSTAATT lecturers have been teaching for as much as five years with no contracts.

She also accused authorities of threatening and intimidating lecturers who want to engage in industrial action, saying that this is the 21st century and any attempt to try to block labour union activities is a throwback to a dark era.

She added that Diego Martin West and South-East Port-of-Spain Secondary are the schools in the country that are in a “critical” shape in terms of lack of safety for teachers, and she called upon the authorities to deal with the situation in those schools.

The TTUTA president has demanded a meeting with the Minister of Education to bring a close to all these issues.