Government to Meet With Teachers Union to Avert Strike: Education Minister

Nicolette Henry

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Education Minister Nicolette Henry says she plans to meet with officials of the Guyana Trade Union (GTU) to discuss unresolved issues after the union earlier this week said it had instructed its members to embark upon industrial action from August 27.

Henry said that the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the GTU had agreed to another round of talks to deal with the issues, insisting that the negotiations were never over.

“I want to point out that some were agreed on in part, because it required much more than one area. For instance, on the issue related to duty free concessions, we agreed entirely on what was proposed. When it came to the issue of housing and the Revolving Fund we agreed also,” Henry said in a statement issued through the Ministry of the Presidency.

“However, [on] the issue of salary and debunching, we did not agree on at all [since] the government proposed a ball park figure. In the case of debunching, we are looking at GUY$200 million to address debunching for the year 2018. “

She said that the union “suggested that they believe that it should be retroactive and therefore they were not in agreement with looking at just 2018.

“In addition to that, the issue of salary also, for which we had allocated the sum of GUY$700 million, they felt that should also be retroactive,” she added.

Henry said that the government is pro-working class and that while the teachers will receive their increases, the negotiations would have to continue to a final determination.

She said the David Granger government has already agreed to a number of the proposals put forward by the teachers union, while the union withdrew some and others were still up for final discussion.

The GTU is seeking a 40 per cent across the board increase as part of its proposal, while the government has proposed a ball park figure.

“So we needed to address that issue and so we gave a figure on what is available in terms of financing to address the debunching issue. Once the debunching issue is addressed and teachers in this instance can be categorised and put into scales, then it will give you an opportunity to give what is allocated to salary increases in the respective categories…

“There is certainly nothing sinister or there is certainly no ulterior motive in awarding the ball park figure, because that did came up in the discussion. I just wanted to provide that clarity because I believe that teachers and the Guyanese people need to understand what was proposed and why it was proposed,” Henry said.

Schools are due to re-open for the new academic term on September 3.

Last week, GTU president, Mark Lyte said the long-running pay dispute with government might be headed for arbitration, and denied reports that the GTU had agreed that a specialist ne hired to calculate how much each category of teachers should be paid from an available GUY$700 million for 2018

The union has described the counterproposal by the MOE as an insult to the integrity of all teachers in Guyana.

“We believe that enough patience was exhibited by the Union to allow MOE to arrive at a satisfactory proposal. Strike will officially commence on 27th August 2018 and will continue until further notice”. – CMC