– says remuneration package for teachers will impact positively on society
By Michael Jordan
President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union Colin Bynoe said yesterday that the recent financial and non-salaried deal the union brokered for teachers will have a positive impact on the quality of education, and vowed to ignore those who have suggested that he has sold out to the government.
He also disclosed that the union is in discussion for a better financial package for retired teachers.
Bynoe made the comments in an interview with Kaieteur News before addressing teachers who had gathered at the GTU’s Woolford Avenue Headquarters, following yesterday’s Labour Day march.
According to the GTU Head, the five percent package, along with other benefits, “is more than good,” when one considers the economic crisis worldwide.
“If you look at what s happening in the UK… the UK is cutting 490,000 jobs in the next year or two, and when you look closer to the Caribbean, Barbados cut back on certain things; they have raised their VAT (Value Added Tax) and are discussing a wage freeze; the Bahamas will be cutting back on allowances they have been giving to their workers; St. Kitts will now be introducing VAT at 19 percent for the first time, and they will not be raising salaries…
“When I consider that we were able to get five percent over the last five years and were able to get another five percent, which is good. But people in this country are only looking at the GTU package from the perspective of the five percent.
We know that it is more than five percent we will be getting…”
“Guyana is no way close to what our Caribbean brothers are getting in salaries as yet, but we are going to get there. The point is every long journey comes with one step, and people have to appreciate what little we get than zero.”
Asked if anything was being done financially for retired teachers, Bynoe told Kaieteur News that such a discussion is taking place.
“We are in the process of putting forward something for them. We are in a process of dialogue…to get something for retired teachers.”
The GTU President also accused two television personalities of making disparaging remarks about him for agreeing to the deal with government.
“They trying to say that Bynoe took bribe…(but) I always say ‘empty barrel makes more sound’. Responding will only dignify these statements. If they knew we could have gotten more (than the five percent), why they didn’t come on board and help us? We cannot allow these things to distract us from what we are doing.”
“The idea is that we are seeing progress. We struggled for more than 15 years to get this …thing sorted out, and now that we are getting it sorted out we can move forward.
“They may say that while (Former GTU President) Colwyn King was present, we got the first five percent package, it’s a process that started since the time of Jean Persico…Samuel Archer… whereby we were fighting for certain things., and we realised that we weren’t getting it, and as we reviewed (union strategy), we decide to do things differently, and we finally came up with a formula…and that is what I am trying to work on
“Right now several unions are courting us to know what we are doing in terms of our workers so they can apply them.”
The GTU President expressed optimism that government will further increase the salaries and benefits of qualified teachers, in an effort to stop the migration of its professionals.
“In the next three years the (teaching) service is scheduled to be professionalized, the Ministry of Education will see that if you are more qualified, you will have to pay more….Teachers have the freedom to move to Barbados and teach with the same certificate, and if we want retention of our teachers, we will have to give them a better package.
“For instance, teachers going into college, not just coming out as Class One teachers, they are now coming out with associate degrees. So it is a new level of pay that they will be getting.
I always say to teachers that you have a responsibility to your charges, they have to teach the children, they have to do their research, they have to qualify themselves, and if you do these things, the Ministry of Education will have to find ways to keep these people motivated or you will lose them.”
Bynoe feels that the remuneration package, which includes duty-free allowances and the speedy acquisition of house-lots, will not only lure more males back to teaching, but may also lure other Caricom nationals as things improve.
“Right now there are almost 80 percent female (teachers). There is need to have more males to ensure improved discipline in the classroom, but it’s not only a Guyana problem, it’s a Caribbean issue.”
The five-year agreement for teachers includes a five percent across-the-board increase in salaries, increased remuneration for teachers who improve their academic qualifications, an annual clothing allowance of $6,000 per teacher, one-off duty free concession for vehicles for 100 head teachers, a housing revolving fund of $40M per year, to facilitate construction of houses for teachers and 25 Government-sponsored scholarships per year for teachers at the University of Guyana.
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