Education officers will begin to receive some $557 million in retroactive payments in June 2013.
The Government, on December 19,signed the Heads of Agreement to provide for the payments at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Finance and Planning in Kingston.
The signatories included Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry, Hon. Horace Dalley; Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites; President, Jamaica Association of Education Officers, Lena Buckle-Scott; and Immediate Past President, Jamaica Association of Education Officers, Dr. Mary Campbell.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister Dalley said: “we have been engaged in discussions with the education officers through their leadership in the last couple of months and we have come to an agreement that will resolve all the outstanding matters that we have.”
Under the agreement, the officers will be paid the sums due to them since 2007 in three tranches – June 2013; Dec. 2013; and a date in 2014.
Minister Dalley pointed out that the officers were originally owed some $900 million but they have agreed to forgo two years of the payments, which represents some $243.65 million.
“I asked them to forgo a portion of that sum that was owed to them and in their conference they agreed to forgo two years of the back pay…or retroactive pay…in the public’s interest, as we grapple with our fiscal constraints,” he stated.
He commended the officers for the bold move they have made particularly in light of the country’s fiscal constraints.
“This is really a tremendous signal that has been given by a group in the public sector (as the country tries) to grapple with our economic hardships,” he said.
Turning to early childhood officers whose posts were made redundant in June 2010, Mr. Dalley informed that discussions are still ongoing, regarding payments to be made. “The education officers now have a proposal asking the Government to pay half of what is outstanding to them,” he informed.
Mr. Dalley stated that the Government is committed to honouring all the obligations that were negotiated. He assured that “all that have been decided on” has been programmed in the medium-term economic outlook.
For his part, Rev. Thwaites lauded the education officers for the compromise they have made, encouraging them to continue playing a crucial role in the development of the sector.
Dr. Campbell, in her remarks, thanked the Government for honouring its commitment to the officers.
“The officers have given back to the Jamaican economy the rewards for years 2007/08 and 2008/09. Let me say also that your empathy for early childhood officers whose posts were abolished is commendable. This action today can only redound to the benefit of the nation. It will now enable the Ministry of Education to attract more world-class skill sets in order to achieve the world class education we all envision for our children,” she stated.