President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Devanand Sinanan said yesterday it is calling on Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh to pay outstanding arrears to about 100 retired teachers owed to them since June 2013. He made this comment outside the Ministry’s headquarters, at Alexander Street, St Clair.
Among those present were former TTUTA president Trevor Oliver, Betha La Hee-Wilson and Dhanmatie Seepersad (wife of the late Frank B Seepersad/TTUTA founder).
Sinanan said: “We are calling upon the ministry to calculate the arrears of salaries that are owed to these hundreds of retirees. And ensure the relevant adjustments are made to their pension and gratuity. The humanitarian side means TTUTA is mindful they are people who have laboured long and hard in the vineyard and devoted the best years of their lives to the cause of education.”
Sinanan added: “It is sad and unfortunate they are being treated as an afterthought by the ministry. We are calling on the ministry to stop giving excuses and to get their house in order and put the relevant systems in place to have these arrears calculated. Why should they have to resort to this drastic type of action?”
Asked for an update yesterday evening, Sinanan said: “The acting permanent secretary Jennifer Daniel said they have completed work on about 250 files. She said the department of Finance and Accounts are ready to send it off to the Pensions Department and they are working on the rest. And they are hoping to have all of it done by the end of April. We will be monitoring the developments closely.”
Asked about school violence and bullying, Sinanan said: “We have been calling upon the ministry and we have given suggestions such as all schools should have guidance officers, social workers who are external to the school and doing the relevant background checks. We are calling for the establishment of out-of-school-suspension centres.”
Sinanan added: “When they get suspended, we can send them to special institutions, where we have qualified people who can make the relevant diagnosis and mount relevant programmes. So the child does not get the negative behaviour being reinforced when they go back to their homes and communities that may have contributed to the negative behaviour in the first place.”
Efforts to contact Gopeesingh on his mobile proved futile.