PROTEST in the city: Teachers make their voices heard during the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association's (TTUTA) protest through the streets of Port of Spain yesterday. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

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Protesting teachers beat CPO bobolee

By Camille Bethel camille.bethel@trinidadexpress.com

Teachers have vowed to continue their struggle until their request for a 13 per cent increase is met by Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Stephanie Lewis.

Speaking after scores of teachers marched through the streets of Port of Spain yesterday, Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Roustan Job gave teachers the assurance TTUTA would do what it took to get them the best possible salary increase.

Job, who expressed satisfaction over the teacher turnout, said: "We damn and blasted vex. Excuse my language. Therefore we will do what we have to do to make sure our teachers in Trinidad and Tobago get a better day.

"I want when you all to go back to your schools talk to your teachers, let them know that 6,000 teachers were out here today. We are on high alert so if you have one red T-shirt, wash it quick because we don't know if we will be back out here on Tuesday but spread the word. If they can't hear they will feel," he said.

Job said the cost of living was high and teachers were meeting him in the streets and telling him they wished the negotiations would be over quickly so that they can settle down and get on with the job.

"They are telling me they cannot afford this and they cannot afford that," he said.

The two-hour march started on the Brian Lara Promenade, Independence Square, between Chacon and Abercromby Streets in Port of Spain.

Teachers in a sea of red, accompanied by a DJ, marched up Edward Street, onto New Street then down to St Vincent Street, stopping at several street corners to voice their disgust over the state of negotiations.

The highlight of the march was the stop in front of the CPO's office where they voiced their opinion of the current state of negotiations by beating a bobolee while chanting, "Madame CPO, oh, oh, oh how you heartless so, you want us to beg for food. Your offer is so improper don't talk bout your attitude!"

The chanting teachers then made their way across Park Street, down Frederick Street, east onto the Lara Promenade, chanting "no money no school, no money no school".

Parents stood on the street corners holding on to the hands of their children and expressed concern that their children's education would suffer.

TTUTA meets with the CPO again today for negotiations and Job said the outcome of today's negotiations would determine what action TTUTA would take next because, although they have been at the table for the past two years and ten months, and it really was approaching five years since the last agreement expired.

"The period for this negotiation is 2008 to 2011. We are now in 2012 approaching 2013 and this is really ridiculous on the part of the CPO," Job said.

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