The Task Force established to fast-track salary negotiations that will bring to fruition a salary hike for teachers of the public school system, has given itself a December 20, 2017 deadline to complete its work.
But the Task Force, which comprises key officials from a number of ministries and representatives of the Guyana Teachers Union [GTU], has thus far missed at least two of its scheduled meeting.
The Task Force headed by former Acting Chief Education Officer, Ms. Genevieve Whyte-Nedd, was slated to meet on Thursday of each week.
However, reports reaching this publication suggest that the Task Force, which was brought into being at the behest of President Granger, is gearing to speed-up its work by convening a meeting today and possibly tomorrow, too.
But, according to reports, the work of the Task Force could be negatively impacted by the absence of some key Ministry officials who are a part of its membership. This is in light of the fact that the presence of these officials may be required to support their respective Ministers during the ongoing 2018 national budget debate.
In addition to Whyte-Nedd, the members of the Task Force are Mr. Marcel Hutson, Chief Education Officer, Ministry of Education; Ms. Adele Clarke, Permanent Secretary (ag), Ministry of Education; Ms. Jacqueline Simon, Human Resource Manager, Ministry of Education; Ms. Kelly-Ann Hercules, Legal Officer, Ministry of Education; Mr. Frederick Mc Wilfred, Political Advisor, Ministry of the Presidency; Ms. Gail Williams, Senior Personnel Officer, Ministry of the Presidency Department of Public Service; Dr. Hector Butts, Finance Secretary, Ministry of Finance; Mr. Emil Mc Garrell, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communities; Mr. Mark Lyte, GTU President; Ms Coretta Mc Donald A.A., GTU General Secretary; Ms Samantha Alleyne, GTU Treasurer and Mr. Lancelot Baptiste A.A., GTU Administrative Secretary.
This publication has been reliably informed that the Task Force meeting slated for today will see the members of the Task Force commencing discussion on the financial aspect of a remuneration package that was submitted by the GTU since in December of 2015.
It was in that very month that a Memorandum of Understanding [MOU], signed between the GTU and the Ministry of Education, under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, expired.
This happened after several missed negotiation dates and what has been described by some stakeholders as outright disrespect for the negotiation process, that the GTU decided to agitate its 6,000 odd membership to engage strike action.
Strike action was in fact slated for November 2 and November 3, last, but was cancelled after fruitful discussions between the Head of State and union executives a few days earlier.
President Granger, as an intervening measure, met with executive members of the union, and coming out from that meeting he instructed that the Task Force be established.
This publication has learnt that thus far the members of the Task Force have been able to agree on the non-salary aspect of the GTU proposal, save and except for the Whitley Council leave, which is still to be discussed further.
In a solicited comment yesterday, Lyte, the GTU President, who sits on the Task Force, said, “From our perspective, we are progressing nicely; so far the discussions have been very cordial.”
But according to Lyte, “I don’t know what will happen when we get to the financial aspect but we are hoping for the best.”
In its proposal, the union has asked for, among other things, a 40 percent across the board increase for teachers for last year; 45 percent increase for this year and 50 percent for the following three years (2018-2020) for all categories of teachers.
Lyte confirmed yesterday that the Task Force is expected to deliberate on percentage increases today. He, however, noted that whatever is agreed upon at the level of the Task Force will have to gain the attention and approval of Cabinet before it becomes payable to teachers.
In the interim, Government has announced that teachers will benefit from six to eight percentage increases retroactive to January 1, 2017.
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