Last week, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA, expressed that teachers are being deceived. Via press release, COLA President Geovanni Brackett said that the Government has begun a process to use the Smart Stream System to pay teachers, instead of transactions being conducted by school managements. COLA believes this is a move to take power away from the teachers. COLA is asking the BNTU to look into and re-evaluate the matter further and consult its membership before making a final decision. Today we sought comment from BNTU President Senator Elena Smith.
Elena Smith, BNTU President: “’Im not sure what position you’re asking us to reevaluate. Managements are responsible for dealing with pay for teachers. We know that the Government pays the teachers and so that arrangement is between the Government and the managements. They met and managements agreed that they would hand over that part of the obligation to the ministry. I think what should have happened is that COLA should have at least contacted us to find out from us or ask questions ‘you know we are hearing that this is going to happen. What is the plan? Are you aware of it?’ that kind of thing but we got no contact at all from anybody from COLA to ask us anything. I’m not sure which or how many teachers they spoke with as it relates to this matter but we are aware that teachers were given forms that they must complete and those forms contain information that is needed in order to process salaries. So it’s not that managements will no longer be dealing with managing of teacher’s deductions or increments or that sort of thing managements will have the responsibility still of providing that information to the ministry. So for example of you as a teacher are to be getting an increment managements will have a form that they must full out and that form will indicate your name, your increment amount on what will be a new salary based on that increment. That will be sent up to Ministry for those persons who deal with the system to input that information so that then that teacher can get paid.”
As for the notion that this is some sort of power play, Senator Smith says the BNTU is fully aware of the education rules.
Elena Smith, BNTU President: “I don’t think it’s a matter of taking power from the teachers because at the end of the day managements based on education rules, managements are still the ones who determine whether salaries will be docked or not and so not because the government is now overseeing the payment to teachers it means that they can just dock your salaries- the process must still go through and so the managements then would have to request or would have to indicate to Government that they wish to dock salaries and for what period and if it is that we are aware and we believe that that process did not go that way then we have alternatives- you know we can challenge those decisions if we feel that it was a matter of say the Ministry saying to management’s ‘dock teacher’s pay’ as opposed to the other way around. So we do have recourse and let us put it out there that we do have concerns because that matter also crossed our mind and we also discussed that matter that that could be a possibility but we are also aware of what the rules say and what we can do in the event that the rules are not adhered to. So we don’t want our teachers to feel as if though we are not thinking along those lines because we do think that way, it’s just that we are aware of the rules and we know how it should work and we know what we can do in the event that the rules are not being followed.”
The process is expected to be completed by October.