Department of Labour says appointment of Prof. Lucas within the law

– Ministry of Education cautions against any industrial action taken during the arbitration process

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Ministry of Education is cautioning teachers against industrial action after the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) failed to attend another arbitration meeting today.

This follows objections by the President of the GTU, Mark Lyte, in sections of today’s print media threatening industrial action.

The ministry, in a statement issued today, noted that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), The Avoidance and Settlement of Disputes, signed between itself and the GTU on July 7, 1983, prohibits any industrial action and must be complied with, by both parties.

The ministry specifically highlighted clause four of the agreement which states: “During the consideration of the matter in dispute under the grievance procedure, there shall be no strike, stoppage of work whether of a partial or general nature, go slow, boycott, picketing, retardation of production or any other interference with the Ministry’s operations by the Union, nor shall there be any lockout or any other form of interference by the Ministry. Both parties shall endeavour to maintain a state of normal Industrial Relations.”

The Ministry of Education has advised teachers “appropriate consequences [will] ensue” should this legal stipulation be violated.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Social Protection’s Department of Labour also issued a statement justifying the appointment of Professor Leyland Lucas as Chairman of the Arbitration Tribunal between the Ministry of Education and the GTU.

This was also an objection made by GTU in the print media.

The Department of Labour said the appointment is in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement. The ministry’s statement cited clauses 3 (a) and 3 (b) of the relevant CLA which states: “The Arbitration Panel shall comprise one member nominated by the Union one member nominated by the Ministry and a Chairman mutually agreed upon by both Parties. The Ministry of Labour shall nominate the Chairman in the event that the parties fail to reach an agreement.”

On Tuesday, the Chief Labour Officer met with the GTU and Ministry of Education officials to nominate a chairman. However, no consensus was reached between the two parties which led to the appointment by the Labour Department.

Another meeting was scheduled for today but the GTU was a no-show.

“It is the union which demanded that the issue be referred to a tribunal and any attempt to walk away from the process at this stage or to disrupt the smooth functioning of the Arbitration machinery must be discouraged,” the Department of Labour’s statement said. 

Tiffny Rhodius.

Images: Giovanni Gajie.

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