January 19, 1999
Jamaica teachers end strike

                  KINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) -- Public school teachers in Jamaica
                  returned to their classrooms Tuesday following three days of strikes to back
                  demands for a better contract.

                  The Jamaica Teachers Association called off a round of rolling strikes when
                  the Industrial Disputes Tribunal announced the dispute had been referred to
                  it for arbitration.

                  The country's 23,000 public school teachers struck last Wednesday and
                  Thursday to press demands for a better deal from the government in their
                  1998-2000 wage and benefits contract.

                  They went back to work Friday while talks between the JTA and the
                  government continued at the Ministry of Labor.

                  When that attempt ended in failure, the ministry referred the dispute to the
                  IDT. But about 3,000 teachers in the South/Central region of Clarendon,
                  Manchester and St. Elizabeth struck Monday, the first of a planned series of
                  rolling strikes, because the union said it had not been advised of the referral.

                  The teachers' protest revolves around a contentious material and equipment
                  allowance. The union accepted a pay increase offer of 6 percent in the first
                  year and 4 percent in the second year of the contract for teachers, who
                  make an average of J$450,000 (US$12,329) per year.

                  But the union rejected the government's offer to increase the allowance to
                  J$69,324 (US$1,899) from J$60,000 (US$1,644) over two years. The
                  teachers demanded the allowance be increased to J$108,000 (US$2,959).

                   Copyright 1999 Reuters.