TEACHERS called off a planned protest at Harris Promenade, San Fernando yesterday after learning that the State had made a new and higher wage offer.
Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) and Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Stephanie Lewis met on Saturday where the offer was made.
However, according TTUTA's second vice-president Orville Carrington, "We are not at liberty at this time to divulge what that information or what that new proposal is. So once there is an agreement, we will make a release to the media about what it is."
Questioned about the issue at a news conference yesterday at his St Clair office, Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said the TTUTA negotiation process was "almost coming to an end" and noted that yesterday's march was called off.
"And I believe the settlement is almost imminent and I believe with a well-motivated teaching service based on their remunerations they will continue to excel in their profession," he said.
He added: "I want to commend all the 16,000-plus teachers for their tremendous work over the number of years, some (for) 30, 35 years."
He said since he has been Education Minister over the past two and a half years "we have been given tremendous support by our teachers, principals and supervisors and of course by the parents as well".
Over the past few months, teachers have been complaining and protesting the time taken to settle the negotiations.
They have also taken several days off from school to "rest and reflect."
The first offer by the CPO was a five per cent increase and the second offer was an eight per cent increase.
One senior teacher of a school in South Trinidad said all staff members from that school had planned to protest yesterday but they were " happy" there may not be a need to anymore.
He said even though he did not know all the details about the negotiation, whatever was offered must have been more than eight per cent in order for the march to be cancelled.
The teacher said, "It must be a positive thing so we wait with bated breath to see what is going to take place. We go along with the union, they are doing the best they can. We know that for a fact. They are trying to get something that is close to 13 per cent. The last offer the CPO made was eight per cent. Why we are not having the march today means that something has happened over the weekend but there is no information as yet as to what was actually offered so we just have to wait and see."
TTUTA first vice-president Davanand Sinanan in a previous Express report had stated that jobs in the Teaching Service were matched with jobs outside of the service and the salaries of the comparable jobs were obtained through the external labour market survey which is carried out jointly by the CPO and TTUTA.
Since 2009 TTUTA has been waiting for the CPO to complete the external labour market survey and teachers were "extremely frustrated at the slow pace of negotiations," Sinanan said. Carrington said yesterday the union and CPO would meet today where the agreement will be finalised.