Social Protection Ministry to mediate Education Ministry and GTU talks

DPI, GUYANA, Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) is set to meet for another round of discussions on the proposals by the union for a multi-year agreement with government in relation to salaries and conditions of service for teachers.

A release from the Ministry of Social Protection’s Labour Department, this afternoon, disclosed that the Ministry of Education, acting in conformity with the provisions of an existing Collective Labour Agreement, applied for mediatory services in the current Salaries and Benefits negotiations between itself and the union.

Ministry of Education (MOE) officials and Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) representatives during the second round of talks held on August 9, 2018

The Ministry of Social Protection has further revealed that it has agreed to provide the conciliatory services at the meeting which is scheduled for 14:00hrs tomorrow, at the ministry’s boardroom, Lot 82 Brickdam.

This will be the third meeting between the MOE and the GTU to come to an agreement on salary increase for teachers. The first meeting was held on August 9; the second was held one week later on August 19.

The GTU has remained adamant that the government concede to its proposal of an across-the-board increase in salary of forty per cent (40%) for 2016, forty-five per cent in (2017), fifty per cent (50%) in 2018, fifty per cent (50%) in 2019 and fifty per cent (50%) in 2020 be granted to all categories of teachers/teacher educators for the years 2016-2020. The union has stated that anything less would see teachers taking strike actions from the start of the September term.

However, the Government has deemed the GTU’s demands as unreasonable, pointing out that consideration should be given to the economic status of the country and has maintained that government can only pay what it can afford. The Government’s counterproposal is to make available a ballpark of $700Million for teachers’ salary increases and $200Million for debunching for 2018. The government has also suggested that a specialist is contracted to work with the GTU (if agreed) to determine the percentage of increase per category.

During the engagements, Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, who has led the government side in the talks, remained resolute that the government is committed to teachers and the education sector.

“I want to say, teachers, that the Government of Guyana continues to care for you and we will ensure that as far as possible you get what we can afford. We promised a good life for all and we will work on what we have within our fiscal space to ensure the best we can do,” the Education Minister had assured.

The Education Minister also expressed the hope that teachers and the union will come to understand the financial position the nation faces currently.

This hope of the two sides amicable reaching an agreement was also recently shared by President David Granger.

On the sidelines of a commemorative ceremony for the 1823 Demerara Revolt on Monday, August 20, President Granger told reporters: “We do not want a confrontation; we do not want a clash. We value the services of teachers.”

He posited that while a high-level committee was established to find a solution, that solution has not yet been found, but his government is not giving up.

MOE disputes media report

Meanwhile, today, the Education Ministry also disputed a report in the media that some teachers in Region One received threats from a senior official to not go ahead with strike action.

In a release issued late this afternoon, the minister noted an article published in the August 21st, 2018 edition of the Kaieteur News under the headline “Strike-ready GTU hears of threats to some teachers”.

The article stated that reports reaching the GTU indicated that some teachers in Region One were receiving threats from a senior official that they should not strike but rather report to work when the new school year begins.

According to the release from the ministry, the Department of Education in Region One did not reveal any findings that suggest such a threat was made. However, if indeed this was made by an official of the Ministry of Education, the release advised that a formal complaint be made to the Ministry, “since this kind of behaviour does not align with the policies of the Ministry of Education.”

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