The long overdue debunching of monies for public school teachers could soon become payable. This publication understands that the issue of debunching was one of the financial matters that was discussed extensively when the Task Force established to discuss a remuneration package for teachers met last week.
The meeting ended with the members of the Task Force finding consensus on the way forward for this matter. Reports suggest that the members of the union, who are also a part of the Task Force, have agreed to work with the Administration for a speedy disbursement of the monies. However, like all other financial matters, this is one that will have to gain approval at the level of Cabinet before it becomes a reality.
An official close to the education sector informed this publication that once the monies become payable it will cover the period 2011 to 2015, following which the payments are expected to be factored into the teachers’ salaries.
The debunching money was part of an agreement that the Guyana Teachers Union [GTU] had with the previous administration.
Since teachers are paid based on their qualifications, this means that a teacher who has just entered the system is paid the same salary of another that has been in the system for 10 years. With the debunching payment, it is expected that teachers will be eligible for payment based on their years of service.
The payment, which was outstanding for a number of years, was assured by the previous administration but was denied during the run-up to the 2015 elections.
Before and upon entering office, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change had committed to the agreement the GTU had with its predecessor. To date there has been no payment.
Earlier this year, GTU General Secretary, Ms. Coretta McDonald, said, “There has been no new development on the way forward with regards to the debunching payment and I am not even sure there is going to be a way forward.”
GTU President, Mr. Mark Lyte, had explained too that “the Union and the Ministry [of Education] agreed to have the debunching payout of one per cent of all teachers’ salaries beginning from 2011 to 2015…this means that for each month they will get one per cent of whatever salary they are receiving in that year.”
This publication has not been able to ascertain whether the same percentage was agreed upon by the Task Force during its meeting last week, especially since, McDonald had told this publication, “We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars…These monies are payable to all the teachers in the public education system which amounts to in excess of 13,000 teachers.”
“I am not sure where the government is going to find that kind of money to pay,” the GTU General Secretary had considered. She had however noted that “the issue that we have at the GTU is, we have been submitting this document on debunching; we have been redefining and redefining this document to make this document as perfectly refined a document that we want it to be and this is not just the GTU’s doing, but we have been working with officers of the Ministry of Education.”
Reports suggest, too, that the Task Force has been able to agree on June as the month for Whitley Council for teachers, on an annual basis.
Meanwhile, this publication has learnt that the Task Force has been able to address the salary increases that were proposed by the GTU since 2015.
In its proposal, the union 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.
The union in its proposal, too, took 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.”
But Lyte had confided that since the union was only making a proposal, the Ministry was well within its right to offer completely different percentages.
However, this publication understands that during the recent meeting, union representatives were asked to justify why teachers are deserving of the proposed percentage. It is expected that this will be on the agenda when the group meets again this week.
Another financial aspect that had gained attention of the Task Force last week was that of an emotional allowance for teachers since the GTU has outlined that teachers are tasked with dealing with a lot more than just teaching students.
Reports suggest that for this, too, the Union will have to provide necessary documentation to justify this request.
The union has also made proposal for at least 50 teachers to benefit from a scholarship programme offered by the Ministry of Education. Since 2015, 30 teachers have been eligible for scholarships on an annual basis.
The Task Force is expected to wrap up its work by December 20.
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