Trade unions can be a constructive voice for Fijian teachers that unionists need to strive to consider, but only when that voice speaks – the truth.
In recent weeks, union bosses – and some politicians – have been irresponsibly misinforming teachers, to spread fear and confusion.
In doing so, they have proven that they only care about holding onto their own careers, even if it comes at the expense of teachers; but while they may focus on a political future for themselves, the Ministry is focused on creating a better future for them, and for the students of Fiji.
Minister for Education, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has today cleared the air over allegations of false claims by trade union bosses to spread fear and confusion.
Unions are advising members that compassionate leave has been taken off the table, and the introduction of the student free days, teachers will now have fewer paid leave days than before.
However, with the 2018-19 Budget, teachers will have a higher number of paid leave days during the school year, inclusive of 21 sick days, three bereavement days, five family care leave days, regular school holidays, expanded paid maternity leave of 98 working days, and newly introduced paid paternity leave of five days.
Unions claim that 2,000 teachers have been demoted.
Sayed-Khaiyum clarifies that even though some titles have changed, all Fijian teachers are now taking home a higher salary than they were a year ago. Any teacher who wishes to up-skill to match the higher standards required of new positions can do so. It’s a fairer system, a better paid system, and a system with new opportunities for upward mobility.
With the false claim that school heads are being treated unfairly in Fiji, they don’t need modern skills like school management and computer literacy to be effective.
Sayed Khaiyum says computer literacy was just one portion of the job evaluation, making up 10 percent o the school head’s final score. He adds teachers aspiring to school heads can educate themselves.
The Ministry encourages all Fijian teachers to look at any unionist claims about education reform with a critical eye, and form your opinions based on the facts presented.