The Jamaica Teachers' Association came into being on April 2, 1964 when the instruments governing the membership and procedures of the body were examined and ratified at the inaugural conference held on that date. The resolutions constituting the Association were passed at a special conference at Excelsior High School auditorium on December 14, 1963.
The Association was formed from the merger of five teachers associations that existed at the time, namely:
- Jamaica Union of Teachers (JUT)
- Association of Headmasters and Headmistresses (H2 H2)
- Association of Teachers in Technical Institutions (ATTI)
- The Association of Teacher Training Staffs (ATTS)
- The Association of Assistant Masters and Mistresses (A2 M2).
The Associations pursued parallel and separate objectives until the late 1950's when proposals to unify began to take shape. Jamaica's attainment of self-government in 1957; the introduction of the free place system and the draft bill to regulate the education system provided greater impetus for unity. Consequently the executives of the five groups formed the Joint Executives of Teachers' Associations (JETA) in 1957. It was mandated to make representation on matters related to education and teachers. It was in pursuance of this mandate that the groups eventually decided to unify into a single teacher's organization, the Jamaica Teachers' Association.
ACHIEVEMENTS BY YEAR
- Unification of 5 teachers’ unions/associations [Jamaica Union of Teachers, (JUT); Association of Headmasters and Headmistresses, (H2H2); Association of Teachers in Technical Institutions (ATTI); the Association of Teacher Training staffs (ATTS); and the Association of Assistant Masters and Mistresses (A2M2)] to form the Jamaica Teachers’ Association.
- Won bargaining rights to negotiate teachers’ salaries and fringe benefits
- Study leave facility (6 months with full pay and 6 months no pay instituted in the 1966 post-Independence Code of Regulations)
- Hosted the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP) Congress in Kingston
- Position of Liaison Officer created to facilitate easy interaction with the Ministry of Education
- First Reclassification of the teaching service
- Classification of Primary and All Age Schools into Grades (1 - V) and Secondary Schools according to a System of points (I - IV)
- Parity of pay for all positions at the tertiary level
- Establishment of Post of Special Responsibility (POSR) [senior teachers]
- Classification of Colleges (A, B, C) for purpose of determining salary of Principals
- Health coverage through Blue Cross (now Sagicor)
- Compensation for teachers injured in the performance of duties
- Roll of Honour in recognition of distinguished service in the field of education inaugurated
- Withdrawal of membership from Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) protest at leftist direction union was pursuing
- Material and Equipment and Protective Clothing Allowances
- First regional office established in western Jamaica (Montego Bay)
- Revival of the annual Primary, All Age and Junior High Schools Athletics Championships. This was first staged in May 1962.
- Seniority Allowance payable to teachers
- Death Benefits for teachers who die in service
- Increment for additional qualification
- Payment of Housing Allowance to Principals of schools without cottages
- Contact Teacher Programme instituted and annual seminars began
- Principals, Work Experience Supervisors, Supervisors of Teaching Practice and Guidance Counsellors designated Traveling Officers
- Teachers eligible to work as locum tenens while on leave
- Duty Concession to designated Traveling Officers
- Two terms vacation leave
- Shift Allowance to Principals of institutions on shift
- Annual seminars for new teachers instituted. These seminars are aimed at professional orientation of new entrants into the teaching service.
- Remuneration for POSR to be percentage of minimum of Certificate scale (4%, 8%, 12%)
- Vice Principals in Primary and All Age Schools paid according to qualification plus 16% of minimum of Certificate Scales
- Principals with car eligible for full Upkeep Allowance and those without car for Transport Allowance
- Vice-Principal with car designated Traveling Officer and receives Commuted Allowance. Vice-Principal without car receive Transport Allowance
- Shift Allowance made pensionable
- Trained teacher with UWI Certificate in Education classified as Trained Teacher (Diploma)
- Boarding institutions eligible for at least 1 Vice-Principal
- Pre-retirement leave instituted
- Teachers on ‘no pay leave’ excluded for 10% quota
- Re-opening of small schools after protest by JTA
- Uniform Allowance paid to all teachers
- Guidance Counsellors, Work Experience teachers and lecturers who supervise teaching practice paid Commuted Transport Allowance
- The Association in partnership with the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (Education Committee) initiated the celebration of Teachers’ Day, Wednesday of Education Week
- Second period vacation leave not tied to study
- After 2 years teachers in clear vacancies for over 1 year and Principals for more than 3 years will automatically be granted permanent appointment.
- Intensive membership education programme “Study Circle” introduced sponsored by the with the kind assistance of the Swedish Teachers’ Union, Lararforbundet
- Laundry Allowance paid to all teachers
- Remuneration for POSR increased to 10%, 15% and 20% of Diploma scale
- National Council on Education (NCE) established at the instigation of the Association
- Issuing of government bonds for payment of salary arrears April 1—September 30, 1992
- Remote/Special Allowance increased from 3 to 4 increments
- Teachers who are employed part-time to teach 6th Forms paid at tertiary rates
- Two years study leave with pay granted to teachers who have served continuously for 10 years without taking Study Leave
- The Golden Torch Award (honouring teachers for 35 years or more service)
- JTA celebrates 100 years of teacher trade unionism in Jamaica
- Second Reclassification of the teaching service
- Trained Teacher Certificate and Specialist 1 scales separated
- Diploma teachers who were upgraded prior to April ‘85, converted to maximum of the Diploma scale
- Protective Clothing Allowance for teachers in Infant Schools and Infant Departments exceeds 200 students - 4 increments Secondary 1 Principal’s scale; less than 200 students - 3 increments; Vice Principals – 2 increments in the Vice-Principal Secondary scale
- Annual Professional Development Day (now named in honour of Past President Helen Stills), instituted
- The Association became a member of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU)
- Renewal of membership in the Caribbean of Union Teachers (CUT)
- Represented teachers at the Inaugural Conference of Education International (EI) in Harare
- Transportation Allowance paid to senior teachers with POSR 1, 2 and 3
- Lecturers in Community Colleges who supervise students on work experience assignments paid Commuted Traveling Allowance
- 50% school fee concession for teachers’ children in secondary schools
- At the instigation of the Association, the Institute of Education, extended the B.A. in Education to teachers by distance
- Loan facility for in-service teachers pursuing offshore university programmes began with an initial fund of $2 million from the HEART/NTA
- Motor car loans revised to $320,000 for new cars and $200,000 for used cars
- $10 million grant to purchase computers made by the Ministry of Education (part of the Heads of Agreement—1997/2000)
- Master Teachers programme introduced
- Opening of Computer Laboratory at 97B Church Street, Kingston. This facility was out-fitted by the HEART/NTA in collaboration with the Ministry of Education
- JTA elected to host Secretariat of CUT
Establishment of the JTA Professional Development Institute
An additional $5 million added to grant funds for the purchase of computers
The Association began protest action against the Ministry of Education, instituted a policy of a rigid teacher/pupil ratio in schools which saw the commencement of a teacher separation exercise.Over 300 teachers, mainly from the secondary sector, were slated to lose their jobs in the school year.
- Contingent of students participated in the to the Biennial CUT Games in Martinique
- The Association engaged the service of a law firm and used 8 teachers whose dismissals were in breach of the Code of Regulations, 1980. In July, the Supreme Court upheld the position of the Ministry of Education and the Association decided to appeal. The decision of the Appellate Court in December vindicated the Association and the teachers who were ‘separated’ were to be rein stated with all rights and privileges as before the action.
- The 2000/2002 Heads of Agreement was important for 2 main reasons, viz:i) it restored the mode of calculation of the remote (special) allowance payable to teachers who qualify ii) it re-acknowledged the issue of parity at the tertiary level (as per 1973) and the salaries of all teaching/administrative posts were to be adjusted according to a new classification of tertiary level institutions (non-university)
- Serious negotiations were commenced with the Ministries of Education, Youth and Culture and Finance and Planning on 2 unsettled items of the 2000/2002 claims. These were: i) Post-Graduate Allowance of 15% and 20% of graduate-trained scale to be paid respectively to teachers with post-graduate qualification where such qualification does not change their scale; ii) the creation of a career path (i.e. nonadministrative promotional opportunity) for lecturers in tertiary level institutions.
- Association sponsored a contingent of 33 athletes and 9 officials to the 9th Biennial CUT Meet in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Jamaica placed second.
- Parenting seminars hosted by the Association aimed at encouraging good parenting
- Signing of the first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Jamaica
- Association successfully negotiated with the Government of Jamaica, the remission of debt of teachers resulting from “overpayment” in some categories.
- Association began a series of investment seminars particularly geared for teachers
- Association successfully negotiated the refund of 50% of tuition fees to teachers who undertake successful courses of study without the benefit of leave.
- Association successfully completed negotiation with the Government for the establishment of a Professional Development Fund. This Fund provided teachers with loans to undertake studies at concessionary rates of interest.
- Principals of Community Colleges now qualify for a Shift Allowance in line with their counterparts in the Teacher Education Institutions.
- Inaugural Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation Award for Service to Education.
- Introduction of a new allowance—Book, Software and Technology to all the 29 categories of teachers.
- Further reclassification of the tertiary level institutions agreed
- JTA relocates Secretariat to 97B Church Street
- Reclassification of tertiary-level institutions implemented
- Agreement in principle to conduct study to adjust salaries of teachers to 80% of equivalent positions in the private sector
- Third Reclassification of the teaching service implemented: - salaries of all 29 categories adjusted to 80% of market; - a special allowance paid to some categories;- Protective Clothing Allowance extended to teachers of all Primary grades; - Teachers who perform duties during national, special events to be paid a Special Duty Allowance; - Remote/Inducement Allowance now increased to six (6) increments in the relevant scales;- Teachers holding Masters and doctoral degrees now qualify for 4 and 6 increments in the Trained Graduate scale as a Qualification Allowance.