Soon after inking an agreement with the Ministry of Education which will allow for teachers to receive salary increases for the period 2016 – 2018, President of the Guyana Teachers Union [GTU], Mr. Mark Lyte, was already sharing tactical moves for a new agreement.
Although the union had started negotiations for a five-year agreement [2016 – 2020], Government in the end agreed to, and inked, an agreement yesterday which only offered increases for a three-year period.
But according to Lyte, the union is ready to move forward with a new agreement in 2019. He anticipates that the union is in a better position to negotiate for more benefits for teachers.
“I believe going forward we have learnt so many lessons that will prepare us better for the next phase of an agreement between ourselves and government,” Lyte told media operatives yesterday.
Lyte, however, noted that while on this occasion the union was not able to get several of the things it negotiated for its membership, he is convinced that “it is a work in progress to go forward to a new agreement in the new phase in 2019 that we can have more benefits given to our teachers.”
The GTU President is nevertheless convinced that teachers will be satisfied with the package that the union has brokered for them.
“We believe that we have been able to arrive at a position that will bring some level of satisfaction to the members of the GTU and the teaching fraternity in Guyana.”
“Our teachers are going to benefit from outstanding clothing allowances, they will benefit from increases that date back to 2016,” said Lyte as he reflected on how “we were able to move away from where we were at the stage of thinking about arbitration to come back with the Ministry to sit and amicably resolve our differences and to arrive at a consensus in terms of our position.”
Regarding negotiating as a “long haul”, the GTU President added, “We want to assure our members out there that we fought very hard to ensure that all the benefits gained will reflect in a positive way on the lives of our teachers and we believe what has been gained today will result in our teachers being better able to service their classroom in a satisfied way; being able to satisfy their families in terms of the increases they will get.”
As he considered the lengthy period it took before the realisation of a multi-year package for teachers, Lyte said, “I want to thank the members of the Guyana Teachers Union…for giving the support that they had given and our teachers across Guyana who have supported us even in our difficult time, and I also want to express gratitude to the media who were there for every stage of it.”
Regarding the inking of the agreement yesterday as symbolic, Chief Education Officer, Marcel Hutson, said, “We consider the union to be an integral part of what we do at the Ministry of Education.”
He took the opportunity, yesterday, to share his belief that the Ministry cannot function effectively without the union and its input.
“So I am happy that we have come so far as a team and I believe the time is opportune now for us to seriously work together for the benefit of our children in this country,” the CEO noted.
He, however, recognised that there is still a great deal of work to do if success is to be achieved in education. He added, “We intend to work with all of our partners, including the union that we consider to maybe be our greatest partners, in this process.
“We have come a long way and I think today is symbolic that we will continue to do well as a team.”
According to Hutson, the Education Ministry has always fostered the idea of team spirit and “we recognise that if we are divided we cannot impact the nation’s children and we are about transformation. We are about change and the only way that can happen is if all of us move forward with one agenda, one voice and with one purpose.”
The CEO shared his conviction that “what has happened here today is a testimony of what could happen if everybody decides we are going to compromise to come to positions where each other will develop an understanding of what we are about and we could move forward.”
CEO Hutson is convinced that the fact that the Education Ministry and Union have been able to settle major differences in an amicable way is indicative of the beginning of a “great relationship.”
The agreement inked yesterday will allow for public school teachers who work for below $100,000 to receive 12 percent for 2016 and those working for more being eligible for eight percent in the same year.
The agreement also stipulates that the interim payment received by all public servants, including teachers in 2016, shall form part of the payment to be received for 2017 while all teachers will benefit from an across the board eight percent increase for 2018. Meanwhile, teachers will receive a lump sum of $350 million representing debunching monies owed for the period 2011 to 2018.
Signing the agreement yesterday on behalf the Ministry were CEO Hutson and Permanent Secretary, Ms. Adele Clarke. Signing for the union were Lyte and GTU’s General Secretary, Ms. Coretta McDonald.
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