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Sep 26, 2018

Mass Firings of Teachers at Claver College Extension in Punta Gorda

There has been a mass firing of teachers at the Saint Peter Claver College Extension in Punta Gorda. As many as nine teachers, who represent ninety percent of the teaching staff, were first asked to pick up their cheques and then handed their termination letters on Tuesday. The firings have sent the adult education centre in a tailspin and classes have been called off until new teachers are hired.  The Board Chair, Lisel Alamilla, today defended her decision saying the measure was necessary. But the teachers say it was heartless coming only a month after the school re-opened. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

News spread like wildfire on Tuesday that nine of eleven teachers employed at the Saint Peter Claver College Extension in Punta Gorda were abruptly terminated. The decision comes almost a month into the new school year for which eighty-five students of the adult continuing education programme are affected. The teachers, all who have in most cases been coming spending their own resources to provide the services to the adult learners in the south, say they feel disrespected and hurt by the move made by the Board Chair, Lisel Alamilla.


Vanna Noralez

Vanna Noralez, Teacher’s Rep., St. Peter Claver College Extension

“The secretary of the chairperson went to the other institution that most of the staff teaches delivering termination letters. Now she also came to my work place and delivered termination letters for those who work here. So we are finding this extremely ridiculous. How do we go from the point where we are at an agreement and now we are being terminated? Keep in mind this is ninety percent of your teaching staff.  Our teachers are finding it extremely disrespectful that you would text that information to somebody. Due process was not followed and we are also finding it disrespectful that you would even have the audacity; two people unilaterally making these decisions that affect eighty-five students, that affect a staff of ten and also that affect an entire institution because it is a community institution.”


The extension is the oldest ACE institution in the country, with twenty years of existence. The contention and subsequent termination was triggered by the group of adjunct teachers who refused to sign a contract to pay them every two months. Vanna Noralez says that according to the ministry rep, secondary school rules state that even adjunct teachers should be paid on a monthly basis. The staff rep alleges that their requests for meetings fell on deaf ears and they were slapped with termination letters on Tuesday afternoon.


Vanna Noralez

“The Treasurer of the Board presented an idea that we could be paid quarterly; now the staff rejected that idea. Couple months later, it was just forced upon us, saying this is the email, read your contracts and the staff after meeting and consulting with each other, we outright rejected it and that was because we do not agree to be paid quarterly for the entire year; that’s ridiculous. So as a result, we sent it back and asked them to revise this decision, revise their contract and then send it back to us.  The meetings were often times rejected so we had our own staff meetings to decide what’s going on. In the mean time, we were still showing up to classes, we were still doing what we need to do, still signing in—the logs are there at the school—students we have our grades, grade books…everything is check.”


But according to Alamilla, management was unable to meet the payments to teachers on a monthly basis and offered for teachers to be paid every two months to ensure the sustainability of the education facility.


Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla, Chairperson, St. Peter Claver College Extension Board

“How can you terminate someone that you didn’t employ yet? So really when you are looking at it from a legal point of view, we were going day to day, week to week with them because we were trying to agree on a contract. And it was unfortunate that we couldn’t reach an agreement on the contract. We understand that they want to be paid every fifteenth of the month, but because of the cash flow, how money comes into the institution, we were not confident that we would be able to meet their requirement that we pay them on the fifteenth.”


It is no secret that there are tough economic times especially in the south. Teachers say that the added income, outside of their daily jobs, has allowed them to provide for their families. In comparison to the other ACE institutions across the country, the PG teachers are the least paid. Juana Ramirez is a mother of three and has been teaching at the institution for seven years.


Juana Ramirez

Juana Ramirez, Teacher, St. Peter Claver College Extension

“I was really disappointed in the turnout or the response that we got because they sent us the contract about seven o’clock the night before and we were to make a decision, but they didn’t give us the time to actually review it and decide what to do. Before the end of the day, we got the letter that our service was terminated.”


But what happens to the eighty-five students enrolled in the programme whose education hangs in the balance? Classes have since been suspended until next week Monday to make way for a new set of teachers to be hired. That is not sitting well with the students, who say they will stand in solidarity with the teachers.


Mario Noralez

Mario Noralez, Student, St. Peter Claver College Extension

“This di affect we because we want our education. These teachers deh di fire are the same teachers weh encourage us to go back to school. They’ve been on the ground from summer di encourage we fi apply and try go back and now dehn di fire all of them just because teachers di fight for their rights. If they do not take back these nine teachers that they fire, then the students dehn di plan fi have wah walk out from school and without we then di school won’t run.”


According to the teachers they do not have the support of the Adult Continuing Education Rep or the Ministry of Education Rep because they have been instructed to stand down.


Vanna Noralez

“We have a ministry rep on board and he told us that he got directive from above that his hands are tied. We also reached out to our ACE representative, our ACE coordinator for all the ACE institutions in the country and again we were told that his hands are tied.”


Duane Moody

“So it is political?”


Vanna Noralez

“It is starting to look that day. Now none of us professionals in the jobs that we do play politics when it comes to our students, we don’t play politics when it comes to our salaries, so why do we have to play politics and be fighting for monies that we work for?”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Mass Firings of Teachers at Claver College Extension in Punta Gorda”

  1. Marie says:

    Really! Teachers at a minimum should be paid biweekly. No one expects to be paid quarterly unless your stupid for work provided, especially if it is your only income.

  2. Al says:

    Are you kidding me? Get paid after TWO months?? Are you crazy?? I will tell my landlord that he will get paid every two months? Go to BEL and WASA and let them know I will pay them after two months time so don’t cut out my service? Owe the chiney man groceries for TWO months??? Man. You think you hear it all but everyday something comes up to remind you that you haven’t.

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