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Teachers give Education Minister ultimatum over outstanding increments

Teachers give Education Minister ultimatum over outstanding increments

In a letter widely circulated, teachers have given Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports Hon Sharie B. de Castro (AL) until March 31, 2023, the end of the Lent Term, to pay all outstanding increments to them.

According to the letter dated January 20, 2023, by the ‘Teachers of the Virgin Islands’, the Minister was told that the cost of living has skyrocketed, yet salaries have not risen to match inflation.

According to the letter dated January 20, 2023, by the ‘Teachers of the Virgin Islands’, the Education Minister was told that the cost of living in the Virgin Islands has skyrocketed, yet salaries have not risen to match inflation.

Salaries do not reflect the ‘rhetoric’

“Year after year, we hear the chants of how "essential" teachers are, yet our salaries still do not reflect this rhetoric. It is unfair, that the persons at the heart of education system, while having to be concerned for the well-being, and education of the territory's children, must simultaneously be worried and concerned about being able to afford groceries and pay bills.”

The letter did not state what action would be taken if the ultimatum was not met.

Hon de Castro, a former teacher, met with the teachers yesterday to hear their concerns.

Minister meets with teachers

Speaking on International Morning Braff show on Tola Radio VI this morning, February 10, 2023, Hon de Castro said she received a letter on Friday February 2, 2023, from the BVI Teachers Union making representation for payment for outstanding increments.

Upon receiving the letter she said she “swiftly reached out to the President of the BVI Teachers Union and subsequently requested a meeting with the Union so their concerns could be addressed in person, “and we could ultimately seek to achieve a common ground in the matter as it is something that is outstanding a long period of time.”

She said the meeting was held yesterday, February 9, 2023.

According to Hon de Castro, the intention of the meeting was “soley” to give teachers a direct audience with her self and team and representatives from the Ministry of Education were also present.

‘Good conversation’ had with teachers- Hon de Castro

“We had a very good conversation with the teachers that ultimately led to us coming to a common decision on the way forward.

She said the teachers requested of her exactly what they wanted her to do and champion for them in Cabinet, “and we settled on that reality and I expect to do just that.”

Hon de Castro also said she told the teachers the matter of increments has to be swiftly dealt with but more importantly, and to create some level of balance, the matter of teachers salary is what must be addressed with urgency “or else we would be faced with some significant challenges that none of us would even begin to imagine.”

She said up to Wednesday last there was a meeting with legislators and the Compensation Review team and she used the opportunity to champion increased salaries for teachers.

It is unclear whether the March 31, 2023 ultimatum for all increments owed to be paid still stands, as the President of the BVI Teachers Union, Tammy Henry, did not respond to our request for comment.

Some three years of increments are reportedly due to teachers.

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