–set to continue multi-year agreement discussion with Govt.
Teachers should be given the right to support the work of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) if they so desire. However, they are not always granted this privilege, at least not without a fight. And GTU is prepared to battle for the rights of its teachers.
According to President of the Union, Mr. Mark Lyte, “We have had challenges for the deductions for dues. Teachers have applied several times but still can’t get things going.”
He was at the time explaining the process of becoming a member of the GTU even as he highlighted the obstacle preventing teachers from doing so.
The application process, according to him, entails teachers writing to their respective Regional Offices requesting that the Regional Executive Officers make the necessary Union fee deductions.
“On many occasions the deductions are not made for reason(s) that we don’t know; so there is frustration on the part of the teachers who are desirous of becoming members of the Unions,” related Lyte.
He is however hopeful, that this would be one of the issues faced by the GTU during the past year that will be urgently addressed in 2016.
Currently the Union represents some 7,000 teachers spread across 39 branches who teach in the public education system. And once the issue of the stalled deductions is addressed more teachers will be granted the privilege to solidify their membership with the Union.
Lyte is optimistic that this matter could be addressed under his tenure. He was elected to be president in 2014 replacing Colin Bynoe. And Lyte told this publication that he is definitely vying for the presidency again this year.
The GTU is slated to conduct its biennial conference next April. The results of an election will be announced determining whether Lyte will continue at the helm. The election is usually held prior to the conference which is expected to be held in Bartica.
Among his projections for the New Year is the completion of a constitutional reform for the GTU. This, according to Lyte, will include improving some areas that have been identified for attention such as the mode of elections.
Once he is re-elected, Lyte has plans to develop and complete a five-year strategic plan to help chart a guided way forward for the GTU. The GTU President is hoping to be a part of continued discussions with Government regarding the multi-year agreement that will govern the remuneration package and other benefits for teachers. “We want to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s in 2016 regarding this multi-year agreement,” said Lyte.
Soon after assuming the position of President, Lyte had touted a 20 per cent across the board pay increase as suitable for public school teachers.
The last multi-year agreement was inked with the previous Government – the People’s Progressive Party/Civic – in 2011 and will expire at the end of this month. The agreement was one that catered to a five per cent pay hike for teachers at the beginning of each year during the life of the agreement.
But Lyte had earlier informed this publication that continued negotiations will not only address an increase in salaries, but also other benefits that the Union believes teachers should be entitled to.
“Our focus is not only on salary issues but also on non-salary issues as well,” said the GTU President who noted that the proposed package for teachers will include duty free concessions, allowances for head teachers and principals.
Although Lyte hasn’t revealed the details of the agreement being proposed by the Union he had however earlier told this publication, “We are also looking to include incentives for the lecturers at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and the technical institutes because they are our members as well, and we intend to bring them on board in terms of the benefits we expect them to have.”
He’d intimated too that “We are looking to put a complete package together that will help the Ministry focus on the welfare of our teachers.”
This move is imperative, Lyte had insisted since the Union is cognisant of the fact that the teaching profession has become very stressful and that teachers should be properly compensated for their efforts.
Lyte had even then revealed the GTU’s intention to not make the craft its proposal without the input of teachers.
He noted, “We are allowing for the input from all levels of teachers. We are going on the ground to our various branches to hear what teachers would want us to include in their pay package.”
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