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Tekah-De Freitas

Rishard Khan

[email protected]

The T&T Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) is seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to ask for his intervention in key matters which, president Antonia Tekah-De Freitas said, weren’t being addressed by the Ministry of Education.

In a telephone interview last evening with Guardian Media after delivering a letter to Whitehall, Tekah-De Freitas explained that TUTTA is seeking to have three issues resolved.

Firstly, she said, the organisation is asking that the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of T&T (COSTAATT) Act be amended to allow for teachers of the organisation to be represented by the union. She said there were several “representation and rights issues” facing teaching staff at the organisation.

“They have experienced intimidation, they have experienced non-payment of salaries over time, non-payment of contract gratuity at the of the contract period,” she listed among other issues.

Secondly, the TTUTA president is also seeking to amend the Education Act to include positions for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in the teaching service.

“By and large, most of these people are highly qualified with their first degree in some instances with their second degree or doctorate…and they are being paid low wages. They are being exploited because they’re on contract,” she said.

The final matter Tekah-De Freitas is seeking redress for is the professional status of primary and secondary school teachers who, she said, can wait up to 15 years awaiting placement in permanent positions.

“They are assistant teachers working for very low salaries, barely able to survive with the current cost of living. They have no security and they cannot approach the bank and access a mortgage and so forth. And 10-15 years to wait whilst you’re labouring in the vineyard to wait for permanent employment is a long time,” she said.

The union did not set a time-frame for the Prime Minister to respond but Tekah-De Freitas said they would be checking in with the Prime Minister’s office tomorrow.