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Teachers reject CM’s claims in pay dispute, but seek ‘honest and fruitful’ talks

The teachers’ union NASUWT yesterday wrote to the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, expressing its dissatisfaction at the way he has handled the local teachers’ pay adjustment claim.

Despite the ongoing row, the union nevertheless hopes it can work with the Gibraltar Government to reach a “mutually beneficial resolution” ahead of a politically difficult year with Brexit and the general election.

In the letter, the union said teachers have not been given the priority they deserve, adding that the Government only decided to engage once the teachers voted for action short of strike action.

In a nine-page letter, the union’s President, Victor Gonzalez, said: “We sincerely hope that we can begin honest and fruitful negotiations on the pay adjustment claim for teachers very soon and that we can avoid members exercising their right to industrial action.”

This row has come about after the union called for an increase in teachers’ salaries that should be “adjusted to reflect and to acknowledge” the teachers’ work.

NASUWT said it previously put forward a proposal for eight annual increments of 6% for new teachers.

Mr Picardo wrote to the union earlier this month but NASUWT said his letter did not respond to the union’s pay claim in full or make a credible counter offer.

The Government said NASUWT’s claim for salary increases of up to 46%, which would see the starting annual salary rise from £25,852 to £37,783, was “neither justifiable nor deliverable”.

But NASUWT accused the Government of distorting the monetary value of some aspects of the pay claim, and said its approach is “totally inaccurate and misleading”.

In the letter, it said the pay claim was far low in percentage terms, ranging 29% at the upper end of the scale to 35% for entry-level teachers.

It raised a number of other issues including the way teachers’ salaries compared to other areas of the public sector which had benefited from pay increases of up to 40%.

The Government was further accused of ignoring the pay adjustment claim for nearly a year, then “antagonising teachers with empty promises” and then causing “further discontent” when it engaged Price Waterhouse Coopers to audit the teachers’ workload.

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

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