Govt offered to proceed with non-salary benefits, GTU declined
─ MOE rejected union’s proposal for duty-free concession for its executives
─ Min. Henry says union should be representing teachers, not themselves
─ among the non-salary benefits proposed was 100 duty-free concessions and 50 scholarships per year for teachers
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, August 30, 2018
During the negotiations held between the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), the government had agreed to proceed with the seven non-salary agreements, even as the two parties continued the negotiations on salary increases.
This was according to Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, who said the GTU refused to go ahead with implementing the non-salary benefits for teachers and insisted that the union will wait until a final resolution.
“These are things we have agreed to, I went so far where the collective bargaining speaks to the implementation of what you would have agreed to within 72 hours, and I am on record having said that. And I said could we go ahead with what we agreed on so that the teachers could start benefitting from these measures. The union said no, they couldn’t do that and they said they wanted to wait until there was a complete resolution.”
Minister Henry was speaking to teachers and parents at the Hope Secondary School, East Bank Demerara. She said that among the non-salary benefits proposed was 100 duty-free concessions and 50 scholarships per year for teachers.
The union also asked that head teachers be relieved of some of their duties which includes supervising students being housed at the dormitories among others and hinterland teachers be given travel allowances.
“They told me that they were not in receipt of their clothing allowance and I told them that we will work to see what we can do even beyond that. We spoke about teachers who work in classrooms with children who have special needs and I said that is a matter that we have to ensure is addressed,” the Education Minister added.
According to Ministry Henry, if the union does not agree to proceed with the agreements, teachers will not benefit this year.
“My concern is that some of those things are confined to a particular year, for instance, you are taking about 100 duty-free concessions for the year 2018 when 2018 is gone its gone…and then who you will say is responsible for that?”
It was also highlighted that the union also asked for duty-free concessions for the executives of the GTU. The minister said that she could not agree to such terms since she believes that the Union should be representing the nation’s teachers and not themselves.
“The union asked that the executives of the union receive duty-free concessions for themselves and I said you’re here for the teachers; I did not agree because it is my opinion that they should be representing the teachers,” the minister emphasised.
The Education Minister made it clear that for any person to suggest that the government did not try to meet the demands of the teachers, is “not only a deviation from the fact, but it might be bordering on maliciousness.”
The GTU has a proposal of an across-the-board increase in salary of 40 percent for 2016, 45 percent in 2017, 50 percent in 2018, 50 percent in 2019 and 50 percent in 2020 be granted to all categories of teachers/teacher educators for the years 2016-2020.
The Ministry of Education’s counterproposal states that the government will make available a ballpark figure to facilitate an increase in salaries for all teachers based on the current salary scale. Government’s ballpark figure of $700Million for teachers’ salary increases and the previously proposed $200M for debunching for 2018 remains the same.
By: Synieka Thorne.
Image: Keno George.