Ministry of the Presidency clarifies President’s comments on negotiations with GTU

Georgetown, Guyana – (September 2, 2018) The Ministry of the Presidency wishes to clarify the statements made by His Excellency, President David Granger on the issue of negotiations with the Guyana Teachers’ Union and Government’s offer at the Presidential Press Conference on Friday, August 31, 2018.

The Ministry has noted that the President’s remarks were misreported, either deliberately or through misinterpretation, in some sections of the Media.  A verbatim transcript of the Head of State’s response to a question posed by Ms. Nazima Raghubir of Prime News is hereby attached for clarity.   

What is important to note is that the President, at no time, said that the Government is preparing to meet the 40 percent increase demanded but rather, it is undertaking efforts to augment its initial offer.

Here is the full transcript:

Nazima Raghubir: Mr. President, the teachers are going to go on strike on Monday. What is the Government prepared to tell them at this time, addressing some of their concerns but also the critical issue of increasing their salaries? Is the Government prepared to tell them anything solidly before Monday?

His Excellency: Yes. The Government has put on the table the need for arbitration. We feel that a strike is an extreme measure and it should only be applied in the last resort. Before we reach to the stage of a strike, there should be some form of mediation and if mediation fails, we can go to arbitration but I think it is premature to speak of a strike at this stage and we are still, on the Government’s side, aiming at mediation.

I do not believe that mediation has failed. The Government has been trying to meet the teachers’ needs. After several discussions at Cabinet on the High level Panel Report, money was found to augment the initial offer. Even as I speak, the Ministry of Social Protection, which has responsibility for Labour and Industrial Relations is in touch with the Ministry of  Finance to see whether additional funds can be found from other heads of government expenditure in order to move closer to the goal of providing sufficient funds for the teachers. We had to do this in the case of the Guyana Sugar Corporation workers in which some Ministries actually volunteered; all Ministries actually voluntarily surrendered funds, which had been allocated for other purposes and this is what is being attempted at present.

So, specifically in answer to your question, one, I do not think mediation has failed. We should proceed from mediation to explore possible arbitration before there is a talk of a strike and secondly, the Government is actively searching for fresh sources of funding to satisfy the teachers’ needs. We haven’t abandoned negotiations. We are still in negotiations as far as I am concerned.

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