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ITVET teachers, still without pay, say they need a resolution – and now

Meanwhile, teachers at the ITVET in Corozal are still without pay, a day after they hosted a press briefing explaining their plight. While we are told there are steps towards reaching the end goal, we examine the impact the situation has had on the institution’s teachers and support staff. Dale McDougall reports.  

Dale McDougal, Love FM News: The strife of the teachers of the ITVET in Corozal and presumably all across the Vo Tech system is that presumably every year without fail there is a period in which they go without a pay cheque. For instructor Ivan Riverol, it’s a situation that is still very difficult to talk about. 

Ivan Riverol, Building and Ground Maintenance Instructor, ITVET Corozal: “I’ve been teaching here for the past 8 years and I have tried to survive this three months without a salary. 

Dale McDougal, Love FM News: I can tell that this is clearly an emotional issue and I can certainly understand why it would be. Tell me what goes through your mind each day when you come here. You still have your students to serve and then you have all of that at the back of your mind?

Ivan Riverol, Building and Ground Maintenance Instructor, ITVET Corozal: “Well I have kids going to school no? And it’s really affecting me because I haven’t received salary and I’m still trying to do my best teaching here actually. I come every day. I am the sole breadwinner for the family.”

Dale McDougal, Love FM News:  And that’s a recurring theme among the instructors we spoke to in Corozal.  Grimoaldo Cobb who has also worked at the ITVET in Orange Walk says most of his teaching career in Vo Tech, timely contracts have been a significant problem.

Grimoaldo Cobb, Building and Ground Maintenance Instructor, ITVET Corozal: I’ve been in the system, the ITVET system for the past 14 years teaching at the Orange Walk ITVET and it has been approximately like 13 years with the same issue. Being a contract officer, I was kicked out of the system for 13 years. The longest I went was 9 months without a pay and when my contract came, it came in a month to month basis. That meant that I did not receive any gratuity.  So I lost nine months of gratuity and from that on forward, every year it’s the same thing. I’ve been out for five months, four months and the excuse was always there that we needed to upgrade ourselves. So many teachers here they went and they got their Bachelor’s in Education, like me, and the situation did not change. We still are in the same situation although we are Full Time Licensed instructors. We have the same issues again.”

Dale McDougal, Love FM News:  But this consistent problem could be solved with one critical decision. Instead of Vo Tech instructors being contract officers, they should be upgraded to the status of highschool teachers. Horticulture instructor, Rogelio Chable explains. 

Rogelio Chable, Horticulture Instructor, ITVET: “That would certainly eliminate the problem. As contract officers, we are not getting any benefits to begin with except the gratuity that we are getting. After 13 years I should almost qualify for my retirement, which, again, I do not qualify because I am under contract. So that affects the morale as we were saying again of the instructors because you know you are working forward for nothing. So that again will definitely alleviate the situation because then you’re not going to be worried about you being kicked out of the payroll system.”

Dale McDougal, Love FM News:  And then when these teachers are without pay, the strain often then falls on another family member as Diani Cantun reiterated.

Diani Cantun, Language & Communication Skills Instructor, ITVET Corozal : “I have expenses at home. I have travelling expenses whereas that I live in a rural area so thank God I have a husband that is helping me out with the expenses but you know, enough is enough already. I’ve been waiting patiently for it but again, I can’t continue waiting for it. It’s a lot of time. I have my university as well. I’m trying to continue my education at the moment but I can’t pay my school fees if I don’t have a salary.”

Dale McDougal, Love FM News:  But instructors are not the only ones affected. The sluggish pace of which contracts are signed also affect the support staff. Brandon Treminious is a support staff at the who just got paid after a month’s long wait. 

Brandon Trminius, Security Guard, ITVET Corozal: “It was really stressing and stuff because, you know, I had bills and those things around and they accumulate and then also, loans and that sort of stuff where the arrears started to go up and that sort of stuff.”

Dale McDougal, Love FM News:  So how did you manage? How did you manage throughout that time without a salary? 

Brandon Trminius, Security Guard, ITVET Corozal: “Well just family. My ma and stuff.” 

Dale McDougal, Love FM News:  Whether they’re the sole breadwinners or had some support during those desolate months, the instructors and staff say “We need a resolution. One that can’t come fast enough.” Dale McDougall, Love News.