Guyana Teachers Wage Dispute Goes to Arbitration

Mark Lyte addresses teachers after the strike was called off.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) have agreed to send their industrial dispute to arbitration paving the way for striking teachers to end their action and resume their duties on Friday, Chief labour Officer, Charles Ogle has said.

The two sides met on Thursday in the latest effort to reach an agreement on the wage dispute that has resulted in teachers staying away from classes at the new school term.

The GTU is demanding a 40 per cent pay hike for 2016 and five per cent annually from 2017 to 2020.

The government says it will cost the state four billion dollars if it is to meet the GTU demands and is instead offering GUY$700 million to cover across the board increases and GUY$200 million to cover debunching.

Ogle said the government did not make any new offer to the GTU during the talks.
The two sides are said to be discussing the terms of resumption that could include no loss of pay or seniority.

The decision by the arbitration would be binding on both sides.

GTU President, Mark Lyte, who addressed teachers following the talks, said his members would return to their classrooms on Friday and that there should be full resumption of duties by Monday.

He declared victory for the union in its quest to take the long-running dispute for increased salaries and allowances to arbitration.

“We insisted from the very first day that we wanted it to go there and we have achieved our objective,” he said to loud applause.

As part of the agreement for resumption of duties, no deductions will be made from the salaries of the teachers for the days spent on the picket line and there will also be no loss of seniority.

Additionally, the two sides have agreed for there to be no victimization by either side. – CMC