TTUTA sues State over SBA payment

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