‘Do not be misled’ – Dr Jagdeo urges teachers as court case still to be heard, determined

Peoples Progressive Party’s General Secretary, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has advised educators to resume their duties in the classrooms and not be misled, as the court case by the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU) against the deduction of teachers’ salaries is yet to be heard and determined in the court.

Two conservatory orders were granted to temporarily prevent the government from cutting the salaries of striking teachers. It is important to note, that this order is only in effect pending the court’s full examination and determination of the legal proceedings.

People’s Progressive Party’s General Secretary, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

And so, based on the legal advice offered to the government, Dr Jagdeo is confident that the government’s stance takes precedence and is concerned that teachers are being misled.

My fear is that they’re misleading teachers into believing that the matter is resolved and they can strike as long as they wish and they will be paid forever. We believe based on what we have seen, the precedent, that this matter will be determined in favour of the principle that has long been established and the deductions, if taken at that time would be harsher for the teachers,” he articulated.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Education will continue to collect information on teachers who are absent from school as the government has received legal advice that the laws of Guyana do not allow for payment when no work is being put in.

The administration has maintained that the ongoing industrial strike is illegal since discussions between the union and the Education Ministry have not broken down. Most of the requests to improve the social welfare of teachers have already been met by the ministry.

Also, talks were still ongoing up to a week before the strike commenced.

The laws of Guyana confirm that if you don’t work, you will not be paid. They advised us [and] they shared with us, case history from the privy council which upheld that principle, no work, no pay – explicitly put by the highest courts in many Caribbean jurisdictions*,” Dr Jagdeo underscored, while emphasising that teachers who fail to perform their duties will not be paid.

GS Jagdeo also reminded the press conference that the strike has a political nature. 

“Norton’s address [to the nation on the strike] was designed to really hide the strong political influence behind the teachers’ strike. We know of it, Norton can’t hide from that,” the general secretary further stated.

It has been nearly four weeks since the GTU organised an illegal industrial strike over better wages, even as the government has earmarked 10 per cent of the trillion-dollar budget towards better working conditions for teachers and increased training opportunities.

Over $130 billion was announced for the education sector in the country’s first trillion-dollars national fiscal plan.