Govt bows to pressure: President finally meets with GTU, Education Ministry

first_imgWages impasse…proposes 10% increase for 2016, 8% for 2018Days after Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo advised that President David Granger take a stand on the impasse regarding teachers’ salaries, the Head of State on Monday met with the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) and the Education Ministry.President David Granger locked in talks with GTU executives – Mark Lyte and Corretta McDonald – and the Education Ministry’s team led by Minister Nicolette Henry at Monday’s meetingThe President met with the GTU and Education Ministry team where he put forward a proposal for teachers. During the meeting, the President said he would like to have the issue resolved at its earliest.During an interview following the meeting, the Head of State said that there have been some “hiccups” with the negotiations.“We are aware of what has been taking place. Unfortunately, there have been some hiccups, but we now seem to be coming to the end of the road. There seems to be a wide area of I would say common acceptance of what needs to be done,” Granger said.He pointed out that on Friday, the GTU met with the Ministry whereby the two again sought to iron out the kinks of the matter.“At my meeting with the Union, the Minister went over those points (discussed between themselves and the GTU) and we have agreed that the two sides will meet again on Wednesday…the intention is to create the basis for an agreement between the two sides as early as possible, possibly by Friday,” President noted.The Head of State went on to say that it is important for this matter to be addressed at the earliest date possible as “teachers have expectancies”.“They are not being ignored or anything. We, of course, expect that the Teachers Union consult with its members and the Teachers Union expects that we, the Government, consult with the Ministry of Finance. So we have reached a broad area in which, I would say that there is common ground. I don’t want to call it an agreement, but we have reached common ground and I think the people of Guyana could look forward to an amicable resolution within days. It is a forward-looking agreement,” he added.Meanwhile, GTU on its Facebook page on Monday afternoon stated that Minister Henry revealed a new offer of 10 per cent increase for 2016 and eight per cent for 2018.“She also indicated that an offer of $350 million is made to settle debunching for the period 2011-2018. Teachers to be placed in scales as of January 2019. Payments for debunching and 2018 will be made in December while retroactive 2016 increase will be made in January 2019 if agreed,” the GTU stated in its post.Granger was forced to intervene this time around as teachers were being mobilised by the Union to be on standby for more protest action.The President’s meeting with the parties came days after Opposition Leader Jagdeo made a recommendation for the President to meet with educators. This most recent call by the Opposition Leader is the third occasion he advised that the President should intervene.Jagdeo had warned that the issue could have gotten out of hand, should Granger not intervene.The Union threatened more strike action after the Labour Department unilaterally appointed Professor Leyland Lucas to chair the arbitration panel to resolve the dispute between the two sides.Although the Education Ministry has threatened legal action should teachers return to the streets, the GTU said it is ready to walk the stairs to the courtroom as it is confident that it has not breached any laws, since according to the Union, the teachers’ salary negotiations have not yet reached the arbitration stage.The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) have since vocalised support for the Union’s call for better wages for teachers. The GTU has in fact called for Minister with responsibility for labour, Keith Scott to apologise for his unilateral appointment of a chairman to the arbitration panel and for humiliating the Professor.The last nationwide teachers’ strike took effect on August 27 during schools’ pre-term activities and lasted for a little under two weeks, as the Ministry gave into pressure and agreed to arbitration on September 6, 2018.The Union has been clamouring for the Education Ministry to honour a proposal for a 40 per cent increase in salary for 2016, 45 per cent in 2017, 50 per cent in 2018, 50 per cent in 2019 and 50 per cent in 2020 be granted to all categories of teachers/educators.last_img read more