President of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), Lydon Lewis has confirmed that some teachers did not get their salaries on time for the month of March.
In an interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Lewis blamed “recklessness and careless” on the part of the Finance Department of the Ministry of Education for the non-payment of salaries and the promised one-off payment of $750.00 due to some teachers.
He said the issue was brought to the attention of the Ministry of Education last Thursday and the union was told that some teachers were “accidentally bumped off the system”.
“To us this is unacceptable, we do not understand how this could have happened. They used the Smart Stream System which would just be the teachers name in the system, so we really don’t understand”, he told the newspaper.
“This information was brought to the Ministry of Education from since last Thursday and up today, up to this morning, we’re not aware that it has been corrected. It’s of serious concern to us. We had a long weekend – teachers have had their houses, mortgages and other responsibility put to question because of this non-payment (of salaries)”, he said.
The 2008-13 Congress government of Tillman Thomas was put under the sword by public officers, and all blame laid on Nazim Burke, then Minister of Finance and not the Finance Ministry when salaries were paid to them late on two occasions.
Lewis is questioning the reason given by the Ministry of Education for the failure to pay the salaries and the $750 one-off payment to some teachers.
He said it is rather confusing to the union how some teachers got paid and others did not.
“It is the same smart stream that is used in the entire service, so, I don’t understand how this could happen. I just believe that it’s carelessness and non-performance by the Finance Department and that the Head of the Finance Department just does not bother with teachers and it just boils down to pure recklessness or carelessness on the part of the Ministry of Education”, he said.
“The same list that is being used for the one-off payment, it’s the same list of teachers, so I don’t understand how some get and some didn’t. Again, it just shows how the Ministry of Education operates,” he added.
According to the GUT head, it is not just the non-payment of salaries or the one-off that is a problem but the union also has some other issues with the Finance Department of the Ministry of Education.
“There seem to be a non-caring, almost do as you like, we don’t care attitude from the Finance Department of the Ministry of Education.
“We have complained about several issues including the fact that some teachers are yet to be put in the proper skills. We’ve had issues to deal with the non-payment of teachers, their correct maternity leave benefit. In fact, some of the times, when the teachers holiday period is upon us, teachers are still not paid their holiday pay and be kept on maternity leave, this is not right. So, we are still grappling with a number of issues as it relates to teachers being paid. Study leave is sometimes being affected by the callous attitude of the Ministry of Education.
“So, we’ve been battling this issue for a very long time and it’s just saying that there is a lot of work that has to be done in terms of teachers benefit when it comes to money and as it relates to the implementation by the Ministry of Education.
There has been no official response from the newly elected Keith Mitchell administration on the current late payments of salaries to some teachers.