GHK Lall’s recent letter in which he claims that teachers are asking too much, is another example of intelligent, educated individuals in the pay of the administration being used to undermine teachers’ claims for increased salaries, attempting to dupe this group and the working masses into accepting less than their just due.
These individuals will agree that teachers are justly deserving their increases, but turn around to say that they’re asking for ‘too much’.
Lall, who has apparently disregarded information in the press even though he has claimed otherwise, must know that paying teachers their proposed salary increases is a matter of policy, fiscal policy, in particular, where other expenditure items have to be considered in terms of their effectiveness in meeting desired social needs (versus government’s hare-brained ideas on ‘national development’). Paying teachers and other public servants salaries adjusted to reflect a ‘living wage’ has been long a priority, and overdue, and has been dragged underfoot for a number of reasons including, 1) union leaders selling out workers, 2) workers’ general dissatisfaction with, and lack of confidence in union representation, and general lack of commitment by successive governments to provide much-needed relief to workers, going back to the 90s.
For Lall’s information, not only the forty percent for 2016, but the entire initial proposal submitted by the GTU is truly reflective of the real demands of teachers. Their position would have been strengthened had they provided a justified ‘living wage’ upon which to base their claims, but enough analyses are nevertheless available to support their claims. On the issue of affordability, the entire country cannot afford not to pay teachers and other public servants their salary increases, because the social costs have proven to be already more than society can bear, but are forced to. This includes the cost of corruption across the entire public sector, the instances of domestic violence that result from financial stress in homes, the alternative lifestyles some workers are forced to adopt to augment their salaries, which lead to a breakdown in families, the loss of lives attributed to poor health care, and not by any means least, the otherwise brilliant children who leave school as uneducated, unprincipled adults because their parents could not afford to send them to private school, because teachers in the public school system under-teach and withhold the full scope of their service to children. Not to mention crime and the deaths of these government-generated ‘criminals,’ and cost of these loss of lives to their families. All accumulated over the decades for which workers have been underpaid.
If the number of unprepared children leaving school annually even after CXC is roughly 8,000, close to 160,000 adults with dependents over the last twenty years or so are on the streets across the country unable to secure proper jobs, hustling with whatever they can to make ends meet every day, not paying NIS, taxes etc. These are among the very individuals Granger has been advocating to ‘buy bicycles, boats and buses,’ I think it was, instead of ‘depending’ on government. The man’s Bs programme is apparently the mechanism upon which the Coalition Administration depends to lift Guyana out of our economic punishment, all resulting from the PNCs earlier 28 years, and bring us into the 21st century. This administration is clueless about the responsibility of government in an economy. Furthermore, the money is there. Government has just been spending it on other items, gambling on the gullibility of public servants and their unions.
The Coalition Administration got into office with a commitment to comprehensively address public servants’ salaries. They have not. Increasing this component of government expenditure addresses many of our social ills. Furthermore, the entire Guyanese society thinks wages and salaries are a priority, so for the administration to pursue other fiscal measures first is to invite the wrath of voters, as they have already done. Fatally so, I might add. So Mr. GHK is encouraged not to adopt silly positions on matters with which society is already familiar. I’m amazed that SN gives him so much of their print to express his nonsense. Not so much so however, when considering the man is in the pay of the administration.
Democratic National Congress.
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