UTech strike an embarrassment for gov’t

November 01, 2019

I think it is an embarrassment that the Government has found it difficult to make good on an agreement signed four years ago, to pay teachers at the University of Technology (UTech) Jamaica, retroactive payments owed for the past four years.

UTECH is one of the institutions critical to the supposed thrust to educate and upskill the population, developing the human resource that will propel Jamaica forward towards a prosperous future. If this is truly the case, the Government needs to fulfil its obligation and get the teachers paid.

I am aware that Jamaica has been on a tight budget for the past six or seven years as the country digs itself out of the enormous debt burden it has been carrying, but I think we all agree that we are much better off now than we were four years ago.

Civil servants have been making tremendous sacrifices to help the Government meet its responsibilities in the International Monetrary Fund programme geared towards reducing our debt to-GDP ratio, and they have held strain for long enough, I believe.

Four years is a long enough time for the Government to have put some funds aside in order to be able to keep their promises to the teachers.

Teaching used to be a sacred profession, but it almost seems as if educators have plummeted to the bottom of the ladder these days. If we think about it objectively enough, teachers should be among the highest-paid professionals in this country.

They are who make whatever goals we are trying to achieve possible. They train our doctors, lawyers, engineers, and architects. They help lay the foundation for our accountants, entrepreneurs, chefs, and business persons.

We need them focused and motivated. We need to make them happy. This has not been the case.


I also find that UTech tends to be disrespected a lot. I wonder if the Government would have waited so long to pay lecturers at the University of the West Indies, but this is just a feeling.

Whatever it is, though, the Government needs to get with the programme and stop withholding the money owed to UTech lecturers, who are currently on strike. The longer it takes them to be paid, the more harm it does to the students who are enrolled there, looking to make Jamaica an even better place for themselves and their children.

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