– says legal action could be a consideration
The Guyana Teachers’ Union [GTU] has not taken lightly reports that it has gotten from teachers within the Region Five area that a reported unconstitutional rule has been implemented within region that has the potential of considerably infringing on their livelihood.
In an invited comment to this publication, President of the GTU, Mr. Mark Lyte, said that teachers of the Region have bitterly complained about a move that will see three months’ salaries being withheld from them if they choose to spend their July/August vacation overseas.
Reports of such a development have however been strongly denied by Regional Executive Officer [REO], Mr. Ovid Morrison.
Morrison had explained away the complaints of teachers in this regard, even insisting that he has only implemented a standard public service rule.
“I have sought to bring into force the existing rule that if you are leaving the country, you must deposit one month salary in lieu of the leave or one month salary will be held. If you write saying that you are leaving for vacation on July 1, your salary for the month of June will be held,” Morrison said.
He had further added, “If you return you will have your salary for the month of June because you would have indicated that you are going. However, if some teachers are interested in spending July and August abroad, I have nothing to do with that.”
But some teachers have since told this publication that they were verbally informed at a regional meeting about the decision to withhold three months instead of the stipulated one month, once they proceed on overseas leave during the July/August holiday. This, according to some of the teachers, will translate to their June, July and August salaries being withheld until they return.
Describing such a move as unconstitutional, the GTU President said that he has written to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communities. The regional authority of each region falls under the purview of the Communities Ministry.
In fact, Lyte informed this publication that failure to reverse such a decision could even warrant legal action. According to Lyte, complaints have only emanated from teachers within Region Five which suggest something is definitely amiss.
While teachers are entitled to one month Whitley Council leave, every four years, during which they could travel abroad, they can also enjoy time during the designated school holidays. However, in order to travel abroad, teachers are required to seek permission from their respective regions since the holidays are not recognised as official leave.
A teacher revealed that “the personnel section in the region, once you are not on contract, will give you a letter saying that you are permitted to leave. They give you a time to leave and a time by which you should come back, which is conducive with the regulations”.
Although one month salary is held by law, further salaries are only held after it becomes evident that a teacher would have exceeded the stipulated time granted.
“This whole holding your salary in advance decision was taken since earlier this year. Because they want to ensure teachers come back, they start punishing you in advance, but we have need for our money…I understand if a teacher doesn’t come back by the deadline you take action, but you can’t pre-empt the situation,” one teacher lamented.
But Morrison in an interview with this publication was adamant that the Region was only seeking to enforce the public service rule of holding one month salary. In fact, he disclosed that “They [teachers] are supposed to give one month notice ahead of leaving, but they have been trying to trick it. They would say they are going on vacation in June, but they wait at the end of May to inform you that they are going, and they would have already collected their salary… that is what they have been doing.”
According to Morrison, enforcing the measure is a deliberate means of ensuring that the Region is not accused of overpayment when audits are conducted.
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