…wants REO to retract statement of exhorbitant overpayment
A resolution has officially been arrived at to prevent the Regional Executive Officer [REO] of
Region Five, Mr. Ovid Morrison, from implementing a decision to withhold the salaries of teachers travelling overseas.
The resolution was arrived at yesterday during a meeting held between the Ministry of Communities, regional officials and representatives of the Guyana Teachers’ Union [GTU]. The meeting, which was chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communities, allowed for the foregoing resolution in light of the fact that Morrison was unable to produce a regulation that gave him allowance to withhold teachers’ salary.
Morrison had unilaterally introduced the decision to withhold teachers’ salaries recently claiming that it was a constitutional regulation aimed at reducing overpayments to teachers who overstayed after travelling overseas.
He’d claimed in a report to Government that the Region was outwitted of some $80million which the region was questioned about at a Public Account Committee hearing.
Morrison said that following the hearing he became aware of an existing regulation that allowed him to withhold one month of a teacher’s salary in lieu of their vacation overseas.
Ahead of proceeding on leave teachers are required to seek permission from the region.
Morrison had explained that upon their return teachers would be reimburse their withheld salary.
But the teachers were reportedly told otherwise at a regional head teachers meeting. It was reported there that three months salaries would be withheld from those who sought permission to travel overseas during the July/August vacation.
Teachers had moreover retaliated by staging two days of protest action outside the Regional Office to signal their displeasure.
The staging of the protest action was stayed when officials of the Education and Communities Ministries visited Region Five to address the situation. Morrison had explained that there was a misunderstanding since he hadn’t instructed that three months salaries be withheld but rather one.
But a resolution was not yet derived.
The GTU in recognition of the fact that no regulation existed to govern Morrison’s decision issued a challenge for him to produce same. The union had threatened that failure to do so would mean that protest action would resume.
The union had given Morrison a Wednesday June 14 deadline which was not met.
Officials of both the Ministries of Education and Communities, the latter being responsible for the operation of the regions, claimed to be unaware of Morrison’s regulation.
Moreover, the GTU was invited to yesterday’s meeting to hear that the Region, based on a directive of the Ministry, will no longer be allowed to withhold any salary.
Salaries will however be withheld if teachers do not return within the stipulated timeframe. Teachers are expected to return one week before the opening date of school.
“Teachers who are going on vacation can again enjoy their June, July and August salaries but if they fail to return, their salary can be withheld and that is understood,” Lyte said yesterday in an invited comment to this publication.
But the union still wants more. According to Lyte, the union is demanding that Morrison retracts his claim that overpayment to teachers had cost the region some $80 million.
According to Lyte, Morrison had claimed that he did his own calculation and arrived at the enormous sum. But according to Lyte, at no point was there any report that showed such a vast overpayment to teachers.
“We need the Regional Executive Officer or the Ministry to retract this claim because it does not speak well for teachers…this can send the wrong signal about our teachers,” Lyte said as he pointed out that overpayment to teachers has not exceeded $3 million.
Based on Auditor General reports between the period 2010 to the most recent report presented to the National Assembly, the sum being touted by Morrison as overpayment to teachers is considerably inflated, Lyte insisted.
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