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The Ministry, in a statement issued yesterday and which was signed by its Permanent Secretary, Mr. Hydar Ally, said it is in sympathy with the many teachers who have expectation of receiving their salary increases and retroactive payments, especially at this festive season of the year.
The statement said that already the Ministry of Education is bombarded with calls from teachers enquiring why is it that the 5% offer by the Ministry is not being paid.
"We wish teachers to understand that this matter is not entirely in our hands having regard to the position taken by the Union," the Ministry said.
The Ministry of Education also noted that it is still open to having discussions with the Union on its offer. "It is the hope of the Ministry that the Union will not be unresponsive to the desire of its membership for a payout of the increases on time for the Christmas holidays," it said.
The Ministry of Education, at a bilateral negotiation with the Union, said it offered an across-the-board increase of 5% in addition to the $60M in order to lift those categories of teachers who are below the public service minimum.
"The Ministry even proposed at the conciliation meeting that it was open to discussion with the union on the categories to benefit from the $60M (and) the Union's position was a 10% across-the-board increase plus bringing the unqualified categories to the new public service minimum," the Education Ministry said.
It said the Union refused at the conciliation meeting to exercise flexibility based on what it claimed to be a mandate from its General Council not to accept anything less than 10% increase. This inflexibility on the part of the union resulted in the Chief Labour Officer declaring a deadlock in the salary negotiations, the Ministry said.
It noted, too, that in arriving at its 5% offer, the Ministry of Education took into account the rate of inflation and the growth of the economy, which amounted to approximately 4.5%. The fact than an additional $60M was offered by the Ministry to the Union is indicative of the genuine concern by the Ministry to improve the well being of teachers.
It is the view of the Ministry that its offer of 5% is not unreasonable having regard to the state of the economy and the fact that no other category of public servants received salary increases in excess of 5%.
"It is regrettable that the Union has chosen not to accept the Ministry's offer (since) it defeats the Ministry that the Union appears bent on misrepresenting its offer by consistently denying the $60M offer despite evidence to the contrary," the Education Ministry added.