The Guyana Teachers Union [GTU] has always been committed to the cause of teachers. This is the assertion of GTU President, Mr. Mark Lyte, even as he reacted to recent comments which suggest that some within the union have not been upholding the union’s mandate.
At the centre of this development is the Union’s General Secretary, Ms. Coretta McDonald, who some are convinced has not been acting in the best interest of members but has rather been influenced by the political opposition.
But yesterday the union’s President came out in defense of the General Secretary even insisting that this could not be the case since “the General Secretary has always been committed to the cause of teachers and at no time is there evidence that she is influenced by a political party.”
Lyte had long insisted that the actions of the union is not and will never be influenced by any political party while he sits at its helm.
McDonald, in substantiating Lyte’s remarks, has since inked a letter to the media assuring the public that despite attempts to besmirch her character as a politically influenced trade unionist; she is indeed one who represents the working class and always will.
The trade unionist was responding to a cartoon published in the Sunday October 14 edition of this newspaper as well as its satirical piece – the Baccoo Speaks – which suggested that McDonald was being influenced by the political opposition.
But according to McDonald, “It is important that a response be made…The two have sought to directly and indirectly, attempt to assassinate my character by presenting the impression (pictorial and words) that decisions being made by me, as General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), on the current negotiation with the Ministry of Education, are informed by directive of the PPP, namely Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo.”
According to the General Secretary too, “Kaieteur News is being asked to provide the evidence that my actions and decisions on the current negotiations are in any way, shape or form informed by the [PPP] Opposition.”
But McDonald noted that this could not be the case since in 2017, she received a National Award – the Golden Arrow of Achievement – from the APNU+AFC Administration, in recognition of her work in Trade Unionism. She made a point of highlighting that this was a nomination that came directly from the APNU+AFC Administration.
“The medal directly from the APNU+AFC Administration; was pinned on my chest by President David Granger on the 6th October 2017, at the Investiture Ceremony, held at the National Cultural Centre. It’s ridiculous that having been recognised for my work in trade unionism by the present Administration, in continuing same, I am now being accused by Kaieteur News, in two separate areas on the same day, of being a PPP/C agent or lackey,” McDonald opined.
She added, “This smacks of partisan political mischief and gives the impression it’s a deliberate attempt to sow seeds of discord among the GTU’s membership at a time when the leadership has to return to teachers to discuss their [salary] package.”
She added that she entered the trade union leadership during the PPP/C administration and during that time the GTU negotiated with the Ministry of Education, led by a PPP/C Minister, and engaged in industrial actions.
But, according to her, “None at that time considered industrial actions informed by the then Opposition or me their agent or lackey.”
The GTU, McDonald explained, represents teachers with a wide array of political interest and lack of interest, which is respected in keeping with citizens’ right to freedom of association. As such McDonald added, “Matters relating to representation by the GTU are guided by trade union and moral principles. Our history proves this. Irrespective of the party or group that holds governmental office, the GTU has a proud record of continuously agitating for its members.” She said too, “Where necessary the GTU did engage or had engaged in industrial actions to bring about results. Our membership has engaged in industrial actions under the colonial authority; the People’s Progressive Party, the People’s National Congress, and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administrations. Our industrial actions during the APNU+AFC administration should therefore not be seen as strange,” McDonald quipped.
She, moreover, noted that since the media plays a very important role in the society as a watch dog and seeker of truth, “Kaieteur News’ Editor and Publisher must also ask how they want the newspapers to be presented and represented in the eyes of the public, and more particularly by the young generation. Dare I ask: when are we going to stop the manufactured political divisiveness and misrepresentation?”
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