Another year is about to end but a number of public school teachers are yet to receive retroactive payment for senior promotions that they were eligible for since 2015.
Although the promotions were stalled because of an ongoing court matter, a ruling into that very matter saw the promotions being fast-tracked earlier this year.
Along with the promotions should have been a hike in pay for the teachers. But according to President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union [GTU], Mr. Mark Lyte, despite concerns raised about the sloth in the payment to teachers, only about six regions have thus far fully complied.
Previously, the union had shared concerns that only a mere four regions had paid their teachers as at October. Although an additional two regions have made their payments, Lyte said that the union is paying close attention to the way the regions are handling this situation.
“Some regions have paid some of their promoted teachers [but] we will not see it as those regions honouring their obligation to those teachers until all teachers in each region have been paid,” said Lyte.
He revealed recently that some of the regions have indicated that they have been unable to pay teachers their increase since they are awaiting instruction from the Ministry of Communities which had overseer rights for regional spending. But according to Lyte, there has been a commitment from the defaulting regions that payment will be made no later than February 2018.
As such, Lyte said that the Union is holding the outstanding regions to their word that payments to all promoted teachers will be fully honoured by that period.
The senior promotions entitle teachers to payment retroactive to September 1, 2015, when their appointments should have become active.
The teachers saw their appointments being delayed because of a court action initiated by the GTU which was intended to prevent both the TSC and School Boards governing public schools from proceeding with questionable promotion processes.
A court ruling was handed down last year by Chief Justice, Yonette Cummings Edwards, instructing the TSC to review its preliminary list of promotions. The promotions only became effective at the start of this school year.
Like the TSC, the Schools Board Secretariat was mandated by a court ruling, to review its preliminary list of promotions.
Based on the information, this publication was privy to, a total of 22 changes were made to the preliminary list of promotions that was completed in 2015. It was revealed that the Schools Board list contained a total of 35 appointments. These included promotions for head teachers, deputy head teachers, senior masters/mistresses, heads of department, administrators, senior lecturers and Vice Principals.
The reviewed list revealed 26 appointments reducing the number of appointees by nine. These changes were necessary, Lyte said, due to the fact that some appointees did not satisfy the criteria as set out in the advertisement. In fact, he noted that applicants were awarded points for qualifications that attach no points.
“Generally, GTU is extremely satisfied with the review process, since it indicates that the School Boards were doing their own thing much to the detriment of the system,” Lyte had informed following the review.
He added then too, “We are ready to move forward and it is hoped that with the move to have TSC do all senior promotions, employment and discipline in the next phase and onwards that the system will allow for fairer treatment of all applicants.”
But the TSC has since been dissolved.
According to Lyte, the Union is concerned that moves are yet to be made to install a new Commission. The GTU’s concern is linked to the fact that teachers could once again be subjected to a prolonged denial of promotions due to this state of affairs.
According to Lyte, “the union, along with officials of the Ministry of Education, has already vetted a list of senior appointments and that list has been finalised. It is the Commission’s responsibility to now publish that list. All we are waiting on now is for the Commission to be sworn in, in order for the process to move forward. At this point it is critical for the Commission to be sworn in, but we are not hearing anything about this. The longer we take to have a Commission in place, the longer the list will take to be published, and the longer our teachers will have to wait to be promoted again.”
As a constitutional body, the Commission usually comprises four members nominated by the ruling party, one member nominated by the opposition party and another nominated by the GTU. The union, according to Lyte, has already nominated its member.
“We will be retaining our last nominee, but it is left for the party in power and opposition [party] to name the other five, and then the Commission has to be sworn in by the President [David Granger].
Even as the union eagerly awaits the appointment of a new Commission, Lyte said that the Union will continue to represent its membership with zeal and vigour to ensure that they are in receipt of what they deserve, including a working environment that is conducive, and a living wage. Currently the union is part of a Task Force engaged in what is said to be fruitful discussions aimed at crafting a suitable remuneration package for public school teachers.
“We are urging our teachers to be patient, because all that we do is in their interest, and we only want the best for our teachers,” Lyte assured.
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