And while city cops have been working extra hours, starting in 2017, school children will be taking in a few extra days of school. After meetings between the Ministry of Education and the managements of Pre-, Primary and High Schools, a decision has been finalized on make-up days for the 11 days lost to the October strike. Fresh off the meeting with secondary school board chairs and secondary school principals, Education Minister Patrick Faber made the announcement:
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"It is 40 secondary schools supporting the ministry's proposal to add 6 days. There was one vote against the proposal and one abstention. So, again, that proposal is to have the schools calendar year be amended to include 6 additional days, which would be 4 in January from the 3rd to the 6th. On the initial school calendar, schools would have reopen after the Christmas on Monday 9th January and with this amendment it would now reconvene on the 3rd, which is a Tuesday and we would then get Tuesday 3rd to Friday 6th which is 4 days and then we would add on two additional days at the start of the Easter break which would be the first two days Monday and Tuesday the 10th and 11th of April and for reference, this is the Monday and Tuesday before Good Friday."
"In this instance compensation will be given for those 6 days. That is that teachers who were not on strike would be compensated, so that they would not be pardoned by now doing these additional days even though they are at school. And those teachers who were not at school as a result of the strike action would also be compensated giving an opportunity then for them to make up some of the lost wages or salaries from the deductions that will be carried out at the end of this month of November."
"So. I have to move on. We don't have the kind of time to do anything else. So that is our position and we hope that the 6 days that is added to the school year calendar can prove productive, so that we are able to maximize on the quality and the amount of instructions that we give to our students at all levels."
So, again, the make-up dates are officially 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, January, 2017 and 10th and 11th April, 2017, right before Good Friday. These are final and will be added to the school calendar in an official memorandum from the Ministry of Education.
So where does that leave the Teachers' Union? They still have not been able to agree on the format for a meeting with the Minister. As we've reported many times, they insist that he meets with all 25 members of the union council of management, and he insists he will only meet with 5. Today Faber told the media, that he's given up on the union and moved on:
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"On the regular basis we've engaged with the union and it has never been demanded that all 25 be there and so I saw that as a kind of ploy on their part to not come to the table. The additional thing is that he insisted that the strike fund would not be used. That was the basis upon which I was inviting him to discussion. So if you are maintaining, even though he has not said that to me officially, that the strike fund cannot be use. Then what is it that we have to talk about? So he effectively then brought those discussions to a close by saying 'I don't want to hear about a strike fund.' He went further to say 'you can't even engaged us on the matter of the make-up time, that's not your place.' If I remember correctly. So those were the premises upon which I wrote to him to say let's talk. You said, 1) you want to bring 25 people. 2) We will not talk about the strike fund. 3) We won't talk about the make-up time, because that is not your place. Then what is it that we will meet about?"
"I can tell you that the president of the BNTU has written to the Prime Minister and of course I got to see that letter, because I am acting as Prime Minister now, but it was basically a complaint letter and the letter was asking for the Prime Minister in his capacity as minister of finance to rescind the memo sent by the ministry of education to effect the deductions. Although I am acting in the capacity of Prime Minister now, I will certainly not act on that particular issue, because it may well be a conflict. Everybody would know what my answer would be. I will leave it for when PM Barrow returns."
But, as it stands now, unless there is some intercession from the Minister of Finance - which is unlikely - the pay cuts for strike days will go into effect at the end of November. In 2017, those teachers will be able to make up six days of wages lost - while the other 5 remain in the balance. Teachers who didn't strike, on the other hand, will be rewarded by getting paid additionally for those make up days, in addition to not getting their salaries cut.