…TSC commences review of senior teachers’ promotions
…Opposition accuses Govt. of unacceptable delinquency
After a few nights of candlelight vigils, the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) is finally likely to see
some very protracted concerns addressed. Among these are the stalled remuneration negotiations and the long overdue 2015 senior promotions for teachers.
In an interview with this publication, yesterday, GTU President, Mr. Mark Lyte disclosed that earlier this week officials of the Ministry of Education reached out to the Union to inform of plans for the continuance of the remuneration negotiations.
A multi-year remuneration agreement between the union and the Ministry of Education had expired at the end of 2015. Since then the union had furnished the Ministry with a proposed agreement which, among other things, suggested a 40 percent across the board increase for teachers for last year.
Also detailed in its proposal was a 45 percent increase for this year (2017) and 50 percent for the following three years (2018-2020) for all categories of teachers.
In its proposal too, the Union had taken into consideration inflation and had 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.”
However, Lyte, last year, disclosed that the Union was prepared to settle for a satisfactory pay hike. This was not forthcoming last year. In fact, the Ministry had reportedly altogether stalled the negotiations with no word about the way forward.
But according to Lyte, following the recent vigil, the union was summoned to a meeting with officials of both the Ministry of Education and the Labour Department of the Social Protection Ministry.
“We met and it was agreed that the Education Ministry will sign off on the non-financial matters of the negotiations and we will continue with the financial aspect within a few months,” Lyte revealed.
The union, according to Lyte, is appreciative of the progressive move.
The union body is equally approving of the start of a review of the preliminary list of 2015 senior teachers promotion by the Teaching Service Commission (TSC). The process, according to Lyte, commenced on Thursday and teachers are likely to be in their new positions by early March. Also, Lyte noted that the union is expecting that once promoted teachers will be compensated from the designated start of the promotion period in 2015.
“After the 2015 promotions are done GTU is expecting that another set of promotions will be done during this year (for 2017). We understand that last year will have to be skipped since there were no vacancies advertised…” Lyte noted.
Last month the Union was convinced that deliberate moves were being made by TSC to continue to stall senior teachers’ promotion despite the issuance of a court order to do so.
The TSC had however noted it would proceed with such a task on “humanitarian grounds.”
But Lyte had noted that “GTU rubbishes the ‘humanitarian grounds’ position taken by TSC as the reason for agreeing to review the applications for senior promotions of 2015.”
Chief Justice, Yonette Cummings-Edwards, on November 10, last, ruled that the 2015 senior promotions lists of the TSC and the Schools Board Secretariat (SBS) be reviewed.
But TSC Chairperson, Mrs. Leila Ramson, had disclosed that the TSC, which is a Constitutional and Autonomous body, was strongly advised by three Senior Counsel to appeal the Court Order handed down by the Chief Justice.
She, however, noted that it was recognized that “since the pursuance of said appeal would result in a long and time-consuming process, TSC had decided not to do so, on humanitarian grounds.” She’d added that the TSC decided not to appeal so as to avoid any further suffering of the affected teachers which would ultimately also affect the nation’s children.”
But Lyte was not convinced that the TSC was genuine in its approach to the review process. This he premised on the fact that a court had to rule that the review process was warranted.
The court proceeding was in fact initiated by an injunction filed by the GTU which had reason to believe that the promotion processes of both the TSC and the Schools Board Secretariat (SBS) were flawed. The court matter had resulted in no senior teachers’ promotions for the past two years.
But the TSC Chairperson had informed that while the oral decision of the Chief Justice took approximately two years to be arrived at, a written decision, as at the end of last year, has not yet been forthcoming.
“A modus operandi has to be worked out, but to date TSC has not received a written decision from the Chief Justice. Hopefully, we will receive the written decision from the Court by early January,” Ramson said in December.
It is not clear whether the TSC has since been in receipt of the written order as attempts by this publication to contact the Chairperson yesterday were futile.
Yesterday, too, Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, belatedly indicated that the political opposition was throwing its support behind the GTU and public school teachers.
In a statement issued yesterday, it was noted that the Opposition Leader is calling on Government to respect previous commitments made by the former PPP/C government with the GTU under the Five-Year Multi-Year Agreement.
The Parliamentary Opposition, according to the statement, supports the leadership of GTU in its demand for a confirmation of an urgent meeting between the Union and the government.
“Furthermore, it calls for an urgent resolution to the teachers’ demands, including respect for the specific agreements concluded under the now expired multi-year agreement, including the duty-free concessions and treatment of the Whitley Council leave,” added the statement.
It was further pointed out in the statement that “the urgency of these issues cannot be over-emphasized. The delinquency of the government with regards to these important issues affecting the teachers of this country is unacceptable.”
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