By Cherno Omar Bobb
Essa Sowe, deputy general secretary of the Gambia Teachers Union (GTU) has told teachers that the draft New Pay and Grading Structure does not put them at a disadvantage, as widely perceived.
Mr Sowe made the remarks Tuesday at a press conference to present feedback on the Union’s findings on the implications of the New Pay and Grading Structure on teachers and education sector personnel held at GTU conference hall.
A press release issued on 23rd December 2021 by the Personnel Management Office (PMO) on their intention to implement the approved New Pay and Grading Structure in view of Government’s anticipated ‘Civil Service Reforms Programme 2018-2027’, the GTU received several calls from its membership drawing its attention to some ‘disparities’ in a purported “Final Report of the Job Evaluation for Pay and Grading for Civil Service”.
This was triggered by an initial analysis trending on social media pointing out that teachers and education officials were disadvantaged compared to their counterparts in a particular sector within the establishment.
However, Sowe stated that their findings revealed that there are four Pay Scale Options developed” which are, Option ‘A’ has a starting salary of GMD 19,613 per annum with 10 grades, 6 increments and standard increase/increment of 5% within and between scales; Option ‘B’: has a starting salary of GMD 23,328 per annum with 10 grades, 6 increments and standard increase/increment of 5% within and between scales; Option ‘C’ has a starting salary of GMD 25,488 per annum with 10 grades, 6 increments and standard increase/increment of 5% within and between scales; and Option ‘D’ has a starting salary of GMD 36,000 per annum with 11 grades + standard increase/increment of 5% within and between grades 1-5 and 3% between grades 6-11.
He said they have confirmed that Option ‘D’ is the version approved by Cabinet, adding that, an Integrated Pay Scale has been approved by Cabinet but the development of the Grading Structure is in progress.
He further said that they have also reviewed the claims on the alleged degrading, comparatively against a particular sector. However, he said their confirmation led to the fact that, this is not the case.
“In fact, the report categorically indicated that the “Job Evaluation has shown that most of the jobs in this cadre (The Teaching Cadre) are under-graded and therefore underpaid relative to other jobs,” he went on, saying: “in this vein, and on the contrary, the teaching job has been given an added relative value both laterally and horizontally.
He also said that they have found out that according to the Generic Pay and Grading Implementation Plan for Ministries/Institutions, PMO is yet to meet the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) to share their final input by reviewing the suitability or otherwise in order to address their own needs and circumstances.
“An Integrated Pay Scale with a starting salary of GMD 36,000 per annum with 11 grades and standard increase/increment of 5% within and between grades 1-5 and 3% between grades 6-11 has been approved by Cabinet,” he said.
DGS Sowe further highlighted that work is in progress and as such, the draft Grading Structure for the Teaching Cadre is subject to MoBSE’s input but as it stands, there is relatively value added in consideration of the teaching job.
“MoBSE has not yet submitted its data requested by PMO to initiate the final review,” he said further, noting that GTU will engage MoBSE henceforth to ensure that the data is provided for necessary action.
He reassured their membership and the public that the Union will continue to fulfill its moral obligations and duty to the profession and country at all times.
He urged members to desist from circulating unconfirmed information regarding issues affecting them and instead direct all their enquiries to the Union.
He also called on member to continue with their normal business while the Union engages with MoBSE to ensure the required data is provided to PMO.
On his part, Baboucarr O. Joof, General Manager, Gambia Teachers Union Cooperative Credit Union said some of their members were agitated when the New Pay and Grading Structure was circulated on social media.
Mr Joof warned their members that industrial action is expensive and has implications for national development which is why they should not be rushing to put on their striking caps.
He stated that teachers are not designed for strikes but rather for teaching, noting that denying children class work should be the last resort particularly when work is still ongoing. He also called on teachers to trust the union and progress.