…higher percentages for following years
A 40 per cent across the board increase in salary is what the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) is proposing for
public school teachers this year. Negotiations between the Union and the Ministry of Education commenced last month, but were put on hold after the reading of this year’s national budget.
A multi-year agreement between the Ministry and the Union came to an end last year-end. The agreement then was for a five per cent increase over the course of five years – 2011 through 2015.
According to current President of the Union, Mark Lyte, while 40 per cent is being proposed for this year, the Union is hoping to negotiate for 45 per cent next year (2017) and 50 per cent for the following three years (2018-2020) for all categories of teachers.
In a proposal seen by this publication, the Union has taken into consideration inflation and made it clear that “Should there be inflation higher than the percentage agreed upon, then the teachers/teacher-educators must get the benefit of the difference.”
Although it was not fulfilled under the previous Government, the Union is hoping that the negotiations this time around would see teachers being placed in scales which will reflect the results of the debunching exercise, in keeping with Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) 2011-
This therefore means that teachers with advanced levels of training will be placed on a different scale to recent graduate teachers.
And the Union has proposed that the payment of debunching monies be retroactive to 2011, when the previous MOU was inked.
Added to this, the Union is advocating for an additional performance-based incentive of three per cent per annum, of the total teachers’ wage bill. Based on the proposal of the Union, it is expected that this will be paid to eligible teachers with effect from January 1, 2016, once the multi-year agreement is accepted and approved.
If the MOU under consideration is approved, teachers will also benefit from a monthly emotional/stress/risk allowance of $5,000, and all teachers who received duty free concessions will be granted a maintenance allowance of $7,000 monthly for their vehicles including cars, motorcycles and boats.
Further, the GTU is proposing that all teachers who are owners of motor vehicles be granted mileage when they are invited to meetings or to meet with officials at the Ministry of Education, and when they are required to attend Teaching Practice sessions organized by the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).
If the Union’s proposal is approved, teachers will also be eligible for double salaries in the month of December each year.
The extensive proposal brought to the negotiation table entails benefits for teachers teaching in hinterland areas, and addresses the need for scholarships and other non-salary issues.
But while the attractive proposal was crafted under the leadership of GTU President Lyte, there is no guarantee that it will continue in its current form when negotiations resume. This is in light of the fact that GTU members are preparing to elect a new President.
While Lyte is again running for the presidency, he is competing against Milne Seymour of the GTU Plaisance branch. The GTU has 39 branches across the country with 7,000-odd members.
But Lyte told this publication once re-elected, “I will work feverishly to implement the things we have highlighted like higher wages and salaries for our teachers, duty free concession for other category of teachers apart from heads and deputies and more allowances for teachers who work in the hinterland”.
It is his expectation that teachers in the hinterland be given shorter periods to serve their contracts and also be able to gain points for promotion. Usually teachers are required to serve a five-year period after completing training at CPCE.
As president, Lyte said that he will also be advocating for smaller class sizes for teachers. And according to him too, the Union will be looking to encourage teachers to further embrace the technological realm.
With Lyte at the helm of the GTU, moves will be made to have a website that is functioning, with a focus on the teaching profession. In fact, he disclosed that the GTU will be seeking to bring on stream radio and/or television programmes to disseminate valuable information to teachers. These should have already been on stream but, according to Lyte, there were some hiccups that prevented this from materialising during the past year.
Lyte, who has been in campaign mode for the past few weeks, disclosed that he will also be seeking to have more training programmes for branch representatives and teachers on a whole with a view of ensuring that they can offer a better service.
“We will continue to represent and bargain for all of our teachers at all levels. Basically my focus will be on the proposal – outlined in the MOU – to ensure that everything we agree on will be implemented,” Lyte asserted.
Already ballots for the election process have been sent out through the post offices to the various schools to allow members to vote. The ballots will be returned to a Post Office Box and will be retrieved on Friday (February 26, 2016) by the GTU elections officer, and counting will take place at the GTU Woolford Avenue, Georgetown office on the same day.
The GTU biennial conference will follow on February 29 and will culminate on April 2, 2016.
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