Without Cabinet’s approval of a multi-year remuneration package which was negotiated by a specially established Task Force and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), a number of teachers up for retirement will continue to lose out.
This was the observation made by GTU President, Mr. Mark Lyte, during an interview with this publication.
“We are anxious to find out when they will be able to complete their deliberations,” Lyte said.
The negotiation process, he recalled, spanned the period November 2017 through April 2018, following which a report detailing the recommendations arrived at was handed over to Minister of Education, Ms. Nicolette Henry.
Minister Henry in turn was tasked with sharing the document with Cabinet.
But according to Lyte, the Union “has not gotten any official word as yet when our teachers will be able to reap the benefits.”
The only talk about the issue was on Labour Day when President David Granger while addressing teachers said, “the numbers were being looked at by Finance.”
Lyte is of the belief that the Finance Ministry’s consideration of the numbers at this point has in fact defeated the purpose of the establishment of the Task Force.
The Task Force, which was implemented to fast track the salary negotiations, he noted, consisted of a number of government representatives including officials from the Ministry of Finance.
“The Union would have thought that since it was a high level Task Force consisting of representatives of the government, government would have been more informed and ready to act since their people had hands-on involvement in the process. There were all these people from all these Ministries, Communities, Education, Finance and even the Ministry of the Presidency; we expected the recommendations that were made at the level of the Task Force would have carried more weight,” Lyte shared.
He therefore expressed concern that as the process continues to drag-on, many teachers continue to resign and will not be able to benefit from some of the things that the package would have addressed.
“That in my opinion is not fair,” Lyte stated.
According to Lyte, the Union has been trying as far as possible to appease its membership’s frustration and has even upheld its promise to not share with them what the results of the negotiations are.
“We are trying to keep our part by giving them [government] a fair chance; we are keeping our end of the bargain and we haven’t even shared what was recommended with our members, but we need to hear something and we need to hear something soon,” said an assertive Lyte.
He, however, stopped short of sharing whether the union has any plans to retaliate against the prolonged wait for a multi-year salary package.
The establishment of the Task Force is one that followed on the heels of threats of strike action from the GTU in retaliation to the slow pace of addressing a pay increase for teachers.
A previous multi-year package inked between the Union and the previous Government had expired at the end of 2015.
Although the union had since then presented a proposal to Government, negotiations between the Ministry and the union were stalled causing the union to threaten countrywide strike action. Strike action by the union’s 6,000 odd membership could have essentially crippled the operation of the public school system.
In recognition of the perceived dilemma, President Granger himself instructed that a Task Force be established to fast-track the teachers’ salary negotiations.
The initial proposal presented by the GTU was for a 40 percent across the board increase for teachers for 2016; 45 percent increase for last year and 50 percent for this year and the following two years (2019-2020) for all categories of teachers.
This publication has not been able to ascertain whether the proposed percentage has been retained following the negotiation process. There were reports, however, that suggested that the union, during the negotiation, was required to justify the percentage outlined in its proposal.
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