Thursday, 09 March 2023 11:14

PNP proposes $291,000 gross monthly salary for typical teacher

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For the typical public sector teacher to have a liveable salary, the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) is proposing that he/she be paid approximately $291,000 per month.

The suggestion was made by Opposition Spokesman on Education and Training, Senator Damion Crawford, during a press conference on Wednesday while some educators demonstrated for an improved wage offer under the Government's compensation review.

Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, has been calling on the teachers to sign the wage offer or risk losing the payment of their outstanding back payments for this fiscal year, which ends on March 31.

In assessing the current wage situation for teachers under the review, Crawford said the current proposal is for the vast majority of trained graduate teachers to be placed in band four of the scale being used.

Such teachers, said the PNP senator, will receive $2.5 million per year, "which works out to $174,000 per month", if accepted.

"I think the start of the conversation should be a gross salary of no less than $291,000," he declared.

He pointed to a chart circulating on social media, where a teacher highlighted her purported monthly spend.

Coming out of that salary is a mortgage of $46,000 and food for $50,000, among other expenses.

"So, a $291,000 per month starting point for the band four is a reasonable starting point," Crawford reasoned.

He added that, "Within that band is approximately 20,000 teachers, and so, our calculations suggest that it would cost an additional $19 billion approximately for that conversation in band four.

"So, if we should move to that amount, it is, by context, only a quarter of the additional amounts the Government collected, even not calculating that amount in 2022-2023 budget."

Crawford said the Government collected approximately $80 billion more taxes than they expected in the current fiscal year, "so what is necessary to pay the teachers is only $19 billion more".

He argued that such an increase in the salaries for teachers is necessary, "because it is unfair, in our opinion and in my opinion, that any group, including teachers, taxi men or any other group, should be asked to sacrifice in perpetuity, and to subsidise the Government's efforts to run a balanced budget, or the Government's effort to deliver on other services."

Crawford reiterated that like any other workers, teachers have their other personal obligations, whether it is their rent, mortgage, care for their own children, tertiary fees, or student loans.

"Indeed, the People's National Party, in the last four months, has made recommendations for a five-year staggered forgiveness of five-per cent of student loan - that has been ignored.

"We asked for a special NHT (National Housing Trust) for teachers; that has not only been ignored, but reversed by removing the special NHT," Crawford claimed.

He said the PNP has also asked the Government to consider the tools of trade for teachers, including the internet, and that also has been ignored, as well as other packages that would be aimed at keeping educators grounded in local classrooms.

Those have also been ignored by the Government, claimed Crawford.

The PNP senator said, too, that teachers have undocumented expenses, one of which is the welfare of some students, for whom they provide monies for lunches, and pay for the exam fees of some needy students at their respective schools.

"So, the general reality means that the teachers should not sacrifice further," stated Crawford.