“We shall overcome some day,” sang those protesting outside the Brickdam, Georgetown Teaching Service Commission (TSC) yesterday. The occasion represented the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) continued call for a
replacement of the TSC.
This is the fourth week of the GTU-spearheaded action which followed on the heels of the TSC’s move to appoint a teacher thereby disregarding an injunction filed by the GTU in the High Court to prevent the TSC from appointing teachers until a review of the teachers’ promotion process is done.
The injunction filed by the GTU had also called on the Ministry of Education’s Schools Board Secretariat to also halt its promotion process. Although the School Boards Secretariat had adhered to the request of the GTU, the TSC was not prepared to do so, at least not for the 2015 promotions.
TSC Chairman, Ms. Leila Ramson, had indicated that it was not feasible for a review of the thousands of applications already processed. She related that the ongoing court matter is one that has also stalled senior promotions for 2016.
The move by the TSC to undermine the injunction and appoint a teacher, forced the GTU to challenge the TSC which resulted in a move by the TSC to rescind the appointment and issue an apology to the GTU.
However, this was not enough to appease the GTU which has since been calling on Government to replace the Commission which is headed by Ms. Ramson.
Protesting yesterday were GTU President, Mr. Mark Lyte and General Secretary, Ms. Coretta McDonald, representatives from the Union’s branches and teachers from the West Demerara, Berbice and Georgetown areas.
But despite the many calls for Government to adhere to its call, Lyte yesterday said, “So far we have had limited response from the administration who we know has the authority to replace this Commission that is not working in the interest of our teachers.”
The GTU President noted that although the Union has written to President David Granger, no response has been forthcoming. “I believe that Government is acting too slow…if you have the nation’s teachers at heart, if you have the children at heart, if our teachers are not happy in the classroom then they can’t deliver in the classroom and this is having a rippling effect…
“Teachers are affected, children are affected, parents are affected and so the whole community. This is a matter of urgency; I believe they should suspend debates in Parliament to treat with this matter because of how urgent it is.”
Lyte shared his conviction that, “There is a deliberate effort to frustrate our teachers who are due their promotions. Had this matter been treated with since last year it would have been resolved by December (2015)…The Commission continues to drag its feet stating that it is unable to treat with the concerns of the Guyana Teachers Union.”
According to Lyte, for the past 20 years, some teachers have been frustrated since they are convinced that promotions are not based on their eligibility and on the criteria that should be used.
And since the prevailing state of affairs “is not auguring well,” Lyte yesterday said, “GTU is contemplating moving to the next level which would mean that we will have to call a nationwide strike to make our concerns known and we are thinking in the near future.”
But the nationwide strike, according to Lyte, is being viewed as a last resort tactic. He insisted, “We should have gotten a response already but we have not, so we are thinking seriously about calling a strike that would put some more urgency to let them (Government) know that our issue is urgent.”
And Lyte said that strike action, whereby teachers will stay away from school, could start as soon as next week if there is no favourable response.
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