The T&T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) has sued the State over its failure to pay its members extra for marking Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) school-based assessments (SBAs).
In an interpretation claim filed in the High Court last Thursday, TTUTA is asking the court to determine if its members should be compensated for their continued work on CXC’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examination (CAPE) exams.
According to the filings, the association claims that the issue has been in contention since it agreed job descriptions with the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) and the Ministry of Education in 2000.
“TTUTA’s view was that CSEC SBAs form part of an examination created by CXC, not the employer. CXC pays teachers who mark the CSEC external examinations; the marking of SBAs was not part of the duties of teachers and if teachers were required to do same they should be remunerated,” the fixed date claim form stated.
In addition to their claim of not being contractually required to perform the work, TTUTA is also contenting that its members are forced to complete marking outside of working hours as they do not have sufficient non-contact time.
“The syllabus (which is formulated and mandated by CXC) is not designed in such a way as to allow teachers 25 per cent non-contact time...Teachers performing their duties reasonably and diligently cannot mark SBAs unless they utilise their personal time,” the claim stated.
TTUTA is also alleging that the situation is exacerbated by an inefficient online registration system which was introduced by the Barbados-based body in 2012.
“There is an unavoidable rush every year to get all marks and scripts uploaded to the system. Many schools in T&T do not have the facilities capable of supporting the high traffic of uploading,” it said as it noted that late submissions attracted a BDS$35 (TT$118.30) per student penalty fee which was not covered by the ministry.
TTUTA also claimed that the system had led to inequality among teachers as those teaching foreign languages had a smaller workload as SBAs were not required.
“Teachers are being paid the same wage for varying hours of work and intensities of work. This is another indicator that the marking of SBAs could not reasonably been contemplated by the job descriptions of parties,” it said.
It noted that in May last year, the Jamaican Government struck a deal with its teachers for them to receive J$300 (TT$15.47) per SBA script.
TTUTA decided to file the claim after the CPO, Minister of Education and Registrar of CXC ignored its calls to revamp the system last year. It claims it fears its members may face disciplinary action if they refused to continue to perform the contentious work.
TTUTA is being represented by Deborah Peake, SC, Ravi Heffes-Doon and Kenniesha Wilson.
- by Derek Aching