A retention bonus, salary increases and increments, are among the benefits teachers throughout The Bahamas will receive as a result of an industrial agreement that was signed by the Ministry of Education and Technical & Vocational Training and the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT). The three-year agreement was signed Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at the Office of the Prime Minister before executives including the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training; the Hon. Pia Glover-Rolle, Minister of State for the Public Service; the Hon. Zane Lightbourne, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education and Technical & Vocational Training; Lorraine Armbrister and Gina Thompson, permanent secretaries; President Belinda Wilson and members of the BUT; senior government officials and members of the Labour Relations Unit.
Minister Hanna-Martin acknowledged the BUT, the Ministry of Education and the consultants in the Ministry of the Public Service. She said this is the first time in a very long time that there have been “significant” increases for teachers who are “critical” stakeholders in national development.
“I am very pleased that we are able as a government in a tangible way to demonstrate the respect, the regard and the placement of teachers in our national development,” she said.
“I trust that this marks the beginning of cordial and productive relations with the BUT and Ministry of Education as we move forward with our singular interest which is advancing the cause of education in this country for our young people and causing them to find a place of restoration after such a difficult time that they have gone through. I believe that this collaboration will produce incredible results.”
Minister Glover-Rolle said today is a victory not only for the trade unions but definitely for teachers. She described the agreement as an “excellent” one and acknowledged the teams involved.
Lester Turnquest, representative for the Labour Relations Unit said, “It’s a good agreement; it is a significant improvement on what has happened for teachers before and it is a continuation with what has happened with the nurses; of the recognition to those persons who give the most for the country, that the country seeks within its limited capacity to give the most to them. “Similarly with the nurses there is for the first time ever a retention bonus. We wish we could give our nurses and teachers the world but all resources are limited.”
Under the direction of the Prime Minister, responsive interaction and negotiation between the Labour Unit and the Ministry of Finance yielded the retention bonus. Belinda Wilson said the BUT was pleased to sign the fourth industrial agreement which includes a 15% salary increase. She noted that the agreement includes increases in housing and responsibility allowances and an extension to the medical insurance to include dental and vision services.
“There was a focus on those southern islands – Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguana, Inagua — those islands that do not have the banks readily available; they do not have the flights that leave daily; the level of medical care or hospitals up to par. We tried to ensure that they would get an additional allowance to assist them with day-to-day work.” Members of the Labour Relations Unit include Mr. Turnquest, Bernard Evans, Reverend James Palacious and Ms. Cindira Bain.
By KATHRYN CAMPBELL/Bahamas Information Services
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