The question is “what is the purpose of a union? To be more specific, “what is the purpose of the Guyana Teachers’ Union?”
What I know for sure is that my monthly dues went up by two hundred dollars but the impact 0f GTU has been seven hundred dollars less. My point is that I keep paying my dues every month but I am not benefitting from anything much.
I can vividly remember when Central Officers held seminars in branches, officers made their presence felt.
The Guyana Teachers’ Union was the Union to respect, the talk of the town. It is a shame to say that no seminar or training programmes are held.
I remember Bertram Hamilton, Lancelot Baptiste, Sydney Murdock and George Cave; those were the names to talk about. Those were the people who sought to develop teachers.
Avril Crawford and Jennifer Cumberbatch were women who devoted their lives to the Guyana Teachers’ Union.
For the past four to six years, what has this union done for its teachers?
A multi-year agreement was signed which allowed teachers to gain $6000 uniform allowance, a 5% increase at the beginning of every year and any addition that public servants may receive, duty free vehicles, etc for Headteachers. The shameful thing is that there are Headteachers who are still awaiting their duty-free allowances.
What is worse is that the pace at which GTU moved and continues to move, has caused some Headteachers, who were eligible in the first and second batches, to no longer be eligible.
Some Headteachers have become very frustrated with the system since time seems to be drawing closer to their retirement.
The new multi-year agreement is the old one disguised. This is very disappointing since it possesses nothing new, except for a few numbers added to different parts.
The only part that benefits all teachers is the 5%, and they have the audacity to walk around smiling and boasting about that knot that Mr. Jagdeo placed them in, thinking that have conquered.
The biggest joke is that Mr. Jagdeo boasted about the new multi-year agreement in his May Day speech last year. Old people always say, “mek sure better than cack sure.” It is as though the persons we elected to negotiate for us have very little vision or dreams beyond what is passed down to them on paper. I am tired of GTU. Am I the only person feeling this way? This could never be.
Do these officers think that teachers are not observant, or do they believe that they are the only intelligent ones?
I recall visiting the Union some years ago and saw a green Ipsum Vehicle. I needed not ask about the ownership because Guyana Teachers’ Union was written on the doors. It was bought to transport Central Officers around Guyana where possible. My memory aches when I am reminded of the controversy over the vehicle.
About three years after, I learnt that the vehicle was no longer in working condition, seats destroyed and was parked in the union’s compound for months, left to the elements of the weather.
Some teachers stated their interest in purchasing the vehicle but were told that it is not for sale and too costly to be repaired. The alarming and disappointing thing is that the very vehicle, which our (teachers) money bought, which was not for sale and too costly to be repaired, was sold to a senior union official for a pittance with no authority from the trustees. More incredible, is that the vehicle was fixed in about three to four weeks and is still as good as new.
I think that any management would know that it is a fraudulent act to sell an organisation’s asset to members of the very team for a price way below the market value. An alternative measure should have been to advertise the vehicle for sale as is, to the rank and file or even the man in the street, even if it entailed a bid.
It all makes sense now. Since most, if not all of the other Central Officers, are driving, the General Secretary needed to be driving too. In order to facilitate the process, the Treasurer used an assumed authority to “give the vehicle away.”
The taste in my mouth becomes sourer when I think of the 2012 elections for Central Executive Officers. Please pray for our union.
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