The Antigua and Barbuda government says it has taken a decision to extend the Easter vacation after indicating it had received correspondence from the union representing teachers of its intention to “engage in industrial action starting April 14, 2023”.
“In light of this and because children cannot be left unsupervised or under-supervised, particularly at this time of immense challenge with antisocial behaviour among young people, the Ministry of Education has taken a decision to extend the Easter Vacation by four days, resorting to the traditional two weeks,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said this will allow additional time for the “Ministry to work closely with the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) and other agencies to arrive at an acceptable position.
“The Ministry of Education, Sports and Creative Industries remains committed to working with the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers to ensuring that learning environments are healthy, safe and conducive to learning and that all teachers receive their due worth,” the statement added.
The ministry listed several grievances, including, the upgrading of school teachers, school security, fencing, as outlined by the A&BUT detailing what it said had been “the progress made to date” by the relevant authorities.
The ministry said that Cabinet officials, a team from Lands and Surveys, and other stakeholders will meet with the union on Tuesday to further discuss the issue of security.
It said also that 326 teachers have been upgraded and that “most of that number have received their upgrade instruments and corresponding remuneration”.
But it acknowledged that 53 upgrade instruments remain uncollected at the Ministry by teachers and that three persons were outside of the upper time limit of the Cabinet decision and will be addressed in the new cohort for upgrades.
“The Ministry is trouble-shooting the data for approximately 15 teachers who have indicated issues with their upgrades. Although most of the upgraded teachers have received payments, a few are outstanding as the Treasury continues to make payments as resources allow,” the ministry said, adding that it continues to work with the Establishment Department and the Treasury to ensure that all outstanding teachers are upgraded and paid.
|In keeping with a previous agreement, the Special Upgrades Committee, comprising of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Establishment Department, the Ministry of Education and the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers will reconvene on 17th April, 2023…to address retroactive payment,” the minister added.