No salaries for school cleaners

Hundreds of school cleaners from denominational schools are still waiting for three months of their salaries so that they could enjoy the Christmas season.

President of the Association of Denomination Boards, Jewan Ramdhanie said despite promises from Education Minister Anthony Garcia that school cleaners will be paid, the distraught cleaners were still waiting.

 He said some Boards were forced to borrow monies to pay the cleaners who function in more than 343 denominational schools across T&T.

 "While the Presbyterian Board and the Maha Sabha Board borrowed millions of dollars to pay cleaners, other boards have not been able to pay the cleaners. 

This is an unnecessary burden on the Boards as the MOE has failed to meet their commitments," Ramdhanie said.

He added that funds were available but lack of communication among some officers had delayed the payment. 

"The Boards are fed up with this disrespect and we want the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to intervene. We borrowed to pay the cleaners this time but from January, we will not have the option of borrowing to pay. 

From January we will have no other means of getting funds if there is a setback in payment," Ramdhanie said.

He noted that an ongoing audit of payments had caused the delays, noting that the Boards were keeping their fingers crossed that the monies will be paid before Christmas.

Earlier this week Garcia expressed surprise that the money had not been released. An official from the Presbyterian Primary School Board said the cleaners were disappointed and disgusted with the failure of the Ministry of Education to pay their cleaners for the Christmas. 

"Having not been paid for October and November the Minister of Education gave an assurance that the cheques would be available by Tuesday of this week. This has failed to materialise with no explanation from the MOE," the official said

 Association of Denominational Boards of Education chairman Sharon Mangroo said the cleaners are owed for the months of October, November and December.  Mangaroo said funds are normally released late after the budget has been passed.

Denominational Boards own over 343 primary schools in T&T. 

Under the Concordat of 1960, the Ministry has the responsibility of paying staff. Renovations, repairs and rebuilding are financed by the State at a ratio of 75 per cent to 25 per cent at primary schools and 66.75 per cent per cent to 33.5 per cent at secondary schools, the greater percentage being the input of the Ministry of Education.

Efforts to contact Garcia for further comment yesterday proved futile.

Reporter: Radhica De Silva