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Letter to the Editor: SEPOS evening tutors are owed two years salary from MoE!

“I did not want to have to take a loan from the bank but, the way things are going now, I have no choice but to do so and I have already approached a bank.

“I’m going into my final semester next year, so I need all my money which I have already worked for… [But] every time, they keep saying the Ministry is the problem.”

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted anonymously to Wired868 by a writer who claims to be an evening tutor at South East Port of Spain Secondary:

Photo: A frustrated employee at work.
Photo: A frustrated employee at work.

Dear Wired868,

I’m writing this letter to you because I’m frustrated and don’t know who to turn to. We are Ministry of Education tutors who teach evening classes at the South East Port of Spain Secondary School. The staff there has reached to a point where everyone is becoming more and more frustrated as the months go by—because we have not been paid for over a year and some for even longer.

It seems that the supervisor(s) just don’t care. When you try to find out why we are not being paid, you get the same answer all the time: “We are working on it.” But in the end nothing happens and a new month starts with the same situation.

I think if the teachers there did not love what they are doing, they would have all left already.

I have been working there since November last year. It was a friend who told me about the opening for a teacher in my subject area and I agreed to do it as the money will come in handy to help pay for my master’s program. I am doing a master’s in education with an emphasis in assessment evaluation measurement.

I am also a contract teacher with the Ministry where I am on a three-month contract. Yes, sometimes we get paid late but nothing like what happens with evening tutors. And, yes, it is very hard for me to get by as a result because I use my salaries to pay for my master’s which is in US dollars.

Photo: United States dollars. (Courtesy Shutterstock)
Photo: United States dollars.
(Courtesy Shutterstock)

My sister paid for one semester for me, which just shows how things are with me right now. Plus I have other bills which my husband helps me pay, as you know us women can cut and contrive if we have to.

I did not want to have to take a loan from the bank but, the way things are going now, I have no choice but to do so and I have already approached a bank.

I’m going into my final semester next year, so I need all my money which I have already worked for.

For the first three months as an evening tutor, we were not paid. I said ‘okay, then let us see what happens come January’. I decided to get feedback from other teachers, only to find out that they have not been paid for two years—although one teacher told me they used to get payment on a regular basis before that.

Every time, they keep saying the Ministry is the problem. This issue needs to be drawn to the Minister’s attention. And the funny thing is the students get very good passes at the end of it all, yet we are suffering for our monies.

Please help us. We are doing our part. All we are asking is to be paid our monies due to us. From your previous Letter to the Editor about contract workers at the Ministry, I feel that URP and CEPEP workers are being treated better than us.

Our voices are crying out to be paid what’s due to us.

Photo: Education Minister Anthony Garcia.
Photo: Education Minister Anthony Garcia.

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  1. I am beginning to think that they do not want an educated workforce from a certain ethnicity. I remember when a particular representative from a certain chamber of commerce complained to the government back then that their workforce was dwindling because no one wanted the jobs they offered in their businesses. They made a suggestion to fix the education system. I wanted to know what they meant by “fixing” the education system. When you see findings like this then you begin to understand what they could have possibly meant. An highly educated workforce would rather leave the country for greener pastures than work as store clerks, janitors, and other low paying jobs. Soooooooo if you damage the education system then certain menial jobs will no longer suffer from about scarcity.

    • They will still suffer as Trinis do not want low paying jobs especially when there is CEPEP and URP.

    • But we have to balance minimum wage/low paid jobs with a living wage. Can I be independent and rent (I cannot afford to buy a house on min wage), pay utilities, buy groceries etc? The answer is no! Much less if you have children. So you need to have at least two incomes to survive. The reality is, why take a job that pays so little that it costs u more to go to work-passage, child care, food, etc.

    • Sometimes better to have more than zero. What is a living wage when I see people buying KFC like it is going out of style instead of buying a chicken and making it last for several meals. We do not have our priorities right.

    • Judy-ann Stewart there is nothing wrong working for a small wage but what is wrong is trying to intentionally create an environment where jobs with very small wages are the only option.

  2. I was on the cusp of providing tutoring services to that after school program until i learned of the wages on offer…and what’s worse they do not pay you on time…as someone said, some persons that taught under the previous regime are still awaiting their monies.

  3. Everybody who seeks justice in this country has to do so anonymously for fear of victimization. It really says alot about this country’s character . I say write the P.M. copy the minister , asking that the chief accountant be fired and see how fast they pay them . By the way I take note of the area this is happening and feel sad for them . Is this an attempt to ensure that they remain where they are ?

  4. Typical

    They brave to get involved

  5. To my knowledge they are paid a stipend not salary

  6. No surprise here Lasana Liburd. There are teachers that worked in the after-school program under the former regime that are yet to be payed more than a year later.

  7. Stop working MOE since 2011 but I will not be surprise.

  8. I have a real problem when people are not paid on time. I put it down to the uncaring clerks who are responsible for processing the payments even though there may be an element of the ministry not allocating the funds. If the latter were true, the former could keep on the case of the relevant authorities to get the salaries paid. Why should anyone have to wait until after the salary is due to receive it? How do these people manage without salary for 2 years as the writer indicated?

    The area that really gets me mad though is the pension payments for their fellow public servants which take up to or more than 2 years to process. Which public servants do you know who can fund themselves comfortably for 2 years after retirement while waiting for their pension and gratuity? Uncaring and unfeeling!

    This is where ‘supervision’ has fallen down and out. Clearly there are no performance assessments or, if there are, the staff must be getting ‘unsatisfactory’ as their assessment – from top to bottom! Is there still a Ministry of Public Admin? This is something that if fixed, so that any payment, salary or to a contractor for example, is made in a timey manner, would go a long way to improving people’s lives.

    • Ah! So you think that there are people who still care about people other than themselves?

      What refreshing naivety! It’s 2016, lady! Wake up and smell the coffee. The former public servants have all become public masters and is we to ketch.