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
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
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
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.