jamacia.jpg A Jamaican Classroom The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is apparently behind the Jamaican government's failure to honour their agreement with teachers Teachers are owed $80 million in back pay but the government says it can only pay an eighth of that amount owing to commitments it has made to the IMF in exchange for a loan of $1.3 billion. Members of the Jamaican Teachers Association have voted for a further two days of  strike action (see previous posts) if the government does not back down and pay the money owed. Meanwhile the government is making legal moves to try and get the strike stopped.Ray Howell a previous president of the JTA told the Jamaica Observer: "There is a level of arrogance and disrespect that is coming out of the minister of finance. We signed an agreement which we consider to be sacrosanct. If the government did not make provisions in the budget it means they had no intention to pay." To make matters worse the finance minister Audley Shaw has attempted to bring in the issue of merit pay in exchange for the money - even though the money is back pay to which all teachers are entitled. Meanwhile the education minister told the Observer, referring to the government's commitments to the IMF: "It is not an unreasonable sentiment on the part of the teachers to ask that they be paid what they are due. But the truth is that we simply cannot and dare not break the commitment that we have made toward fiscal responsibility." This pattern of markets and their mouthpiece the IMF dictating the education spending of sovereign nations is a feature of countries all over the Global South and now in the OECD countries as well as witness the upheaval in Greece. In Jamiaca the markets have had rich pickings - not least from the country's higher education system which is severely undermined by private off shore providers taking funds from the government because of arcane GATS rules in which the government has become embroiled. Teachersolidarity would very much like to hear from anyone involved in this struggle. Also we would gladly print an email address to which messages of solidarity can be sent. Please contact mary@teachersolidarity.com