And while Minister Faber speaks of smoother times between him and the BNTU, his actions say something else, as his Ministry is moving full steam ahead with their controversial plans to pay out nearly $1m to teachers who chose to attend classes instead of join the strike led by the BNTU last October. In media interviews yesterday, Faber went on heavy defensive mode and took on the critics of the million dollar honorarium proposed by him and supported by Cabinet. Faber walked back on earlier statements when he explained that the purported million dollars was an exaggeration.


Screen_Shot_2017-04-25_at_8.12.43_PMHonourable Patrick Faber - Deputy Prime Minister /Minister of Education


“Four of those day were to be on January from January 3rd I think to the 6th and you remember that those days were sabotaged so let’s break it down to brass tax as my colleague minister Finnegan would say forget the strike days we have teachers turning up for four days of work in January that was sabotaged by the BNTU, they told their members don’t turn up so we had teachers who turned up for those four days of work, are those teachers not to be compensated in any way, is it so unfair to offer something to those teachers who turned up for those four days in their Christmas break so to speak and then those  teachers are then required to take three days out of their Easter break and then three days out of their Summer break if you add up all of these days, these are ten additional days that those teachers are asked to show up to work outside of the planned days, don’t those teachers deserve anything, is it a waste to give those teachers an honorarium because if you pay them their daily rate for those ten days which we did not attempt to do it would be far exceeding a million dollars, is it so unfair to do that for them, how do you think those teachers felt that they turned up the eleven days of the strike, they came four days in January, they were trying to make amend for their students, they were looking out for their students some of the ones who were on strike came in January because they did not then listen to the BNTU you accomplish what you accomplish let’s get back to business, let’s try to address the situation now that our children become the beneficiaries and those four days down the drain nobody paid them for it and then we are asking them to come in Easter to give three more days do they not deserve some kind of compensation for those ten days, if you think and anybody who says I don’t care if it is the Chamber or the NTUCB or any of them who criticizes me for giving something to those teachers who will have to work ten days outside of the eleven days that they already worked for the strike some kind of honorarium then brother I am wrong and I will go down on that one but I make no apologies for that I believe it is the right thing to do.”


An unknown number of payments have already been issued to the teachers. Those who have not received payment, said Faber, may be facing delays because their school management has not submitted their information on time. As to the concern that spending a million dollars without proper authorization is illegal, Faber said that isn’t something to worry about in this case because it is not new money that will be used.


Honourable Patrick Faber - Deputy Prime Minister /Minister of Education


“Every year when we read the budget you know that the ministry of education gets a huge chunk of money the bulk of that monies is for salaries, there is no exact amount so to speak that the salaries come up to every year there is an amount that is allotted in the budget for salaries and that figure fluctuates from year to year; a teacher gets pregnant nobody can determine how many teachers will get pregnant, how many teachers will go on long leave, there are numbers of things that will affect how much you actually spend in the budget and it is true that line item on the budget if he wants that the honorarium is being paid which is why some of the teacher still not received the honorarium, why, because we insist that it must go through as a part of a salaries and in fact for the government teachers in order for us to have gotten thing in time we would have had to have had it from the start of the month when the decision was made so then we had to wait until the beginning of May which is still upcoming for us to make the submission so that they will be paid I think about 377 teachers or so at the end of May, and likewise some of the denominational teachers have not gotten because they will be paid in the normal process of salaries and the salaries come in the end of April, so to say that it is illegal is utter nonsense, it comes out from the salaries allocation that goes for teachers and that is perfectly legal for us to pay teachers out of that kind of item on the budget.”


The issue has attracted a lot of heat from a number of organisations including the Opposition, BNTU, NTUCB, Chamber of Commerce, BPP and even the NGO community. Well, Faber accused them all of having a political agenda, and even claimed that PUPs had hijacked the organisations.


Honourable Patrick Faber - Deputy Prime Minister /Minister of Education


“No teacher receive in excess of five hundred dollars honorarium and it was for both periods and not just one and it was not full compensation for anything which has to be fair and the best that could be done under the circumstance without short changing anybody, look the teachers who went on strike were paid their full eleven days and so we maintain that this is not the ideal thing probably not but nothing illegal, nothing hanky panky going on no kind of twisting, I am glad that in fact because we are doing things properly those who were saying, you were hitting to those who were accusing us of meddling, well if we were meddling wouldn’t the people have gotten the convention to affect the outcome of the and to show you that that is nonsense, it is the PUP and their friends who quite often get into these positons in the Chamber and in the NTUCB and in the NGO’s communities that push these agenda and why I say that it is because they did bother to check for the facts.”


Reporter


“Sir, to speak specifically about the Unions, do you reject the claim that it is trying to Union burst by rewarding those who did not stand with eh Unions?”


Honourable Patrick Faber - Deputy Prime Minister /Minister of Education


“It is not rewarding those who did not stand with the Unions, its rewarding those who stood for our children, it is reward those who came additional days, what if we have said those people who worked additional days, those people who worked those four days in January we’ll pay them in full, what if we have said those who come to work in Easter for the three days who were not on strike will be paid in full, what if we would say the three days in the summer would be paid in full how could that be Union busting paying people for work that they did, they turned up to work the elven days, they turned up to work four days in January, they turned up to work three days in Easter so aren’t these people to be compensated for these work that they did these are all extra days however you want to put it, these are days that people worked, ought they not be paid for work they did for, that’s  the ultimate question you know and in fact what the government did was to find a way to not give them, in fact, I think those teachers may well have a case to make for their full salaries for those days save the part that the school calendar is amended and with that amendment the number of days can be changed to make up for hundred and eighty days and in that event nobody can really claim payment for day that make up 180 calendar days if the calendar is being amended in the right manner by the chief consulting the stakeholders.”

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