The Guyana Teachers Union [GTU] is not taking lightly what it believes to be a discrepancy in the sum paid to teachers as part of a salary hike agreement it inked last year with government through the Ministry of Education.
The discrepancy, according to GTU President, Mr. Mark Lyte, was detected in the increases that were paid to public school teachers on their January salaries. According to Lyte, the union had brought the concern to the attention of the Permanent Secretary [PS] of the Education Ministry, Ms. Adele Clarke.
“We had put forward our argument that what was paid in January was not what we agreed to and so what has happened is that the PS asked us to produce a document showing our calculation because she wanted to set up a meeting with [the Ministry of] Finance for us,” Lyte related.
According to Lyte, the union has since submitted its calculations to the Education Ministry and added, “We are hoping that this week we will be meeting with somebody to trash it out.”
The union is yet to be advised of the date for this anticipated meeting.
Lyte, however, noted that taking such action is crucial. He shared, “I think our teachers need to know that this situation is being addressed…this is not something we are lying on; the union has put forward this so that it can be corrected and we are engaging as a good partner as always.”
“We are engaging education so that they can engage [the Ministry of] Finance so it can be fleshed out. We as a union are convinced that the wrong amount was calculated for January so that is being addressed currently,” Lyte noted.
Based on an agreement the union inked with government, public school teachers in December started to receive an increase on their salaries.
The agreement is one that allows for public school teachers who work for below $100,000 to receive a 12 percent increase 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.
Given the interim payment in 2016, Lyte noted that only some teachers were eligible for a two percent increase. But although these were indeed afforded a pay hike, Lyte said that the Union has had qualms about whether the correct amount was paid out.
“We don’t know that the percentage they [teachers] received is quite accurate because if 2016 increased, 2017 should have triggered an increase as well, so we will have to reengage the Ministry to have that rectified,” Lyte shared.
Meanwhile, Lyte said that the union is satisfied with the payment of debunching monies to its membership which was also agreed to in the agreement. Based on the agreement, teachers were assured a lump sum, one-off $350 million pay-out in debunching monies owed for the period 2011 to 2018.
Lyte explained that the plan was to divide the sum among eligible teachers over the eight-year period. The eligible teachers in the system amount to some 10,500 and, according to the GTU President, “a teacher who has been in the system for the eight-year period will receive a maximum of $36,490.”
According to Lyte, it is expected that “by April, teachers can be placed in their respective scales and begin to receive those debunching monies due to them each month.”
“Teachers are usually placed on a scale based on qualifications, when you started and so; but what happened is that when you are placed in a scale then everybody is bunched up at the bottom of the scale.
“But a scale would have a range, so it provides an opportunity for persons to move along based on their years of experience at that status,” Lyte explained.
Lyte divulged too, “It is important to note that every two years somebody will move along the scale. For the first two years a teacher will move along with an additional increment which will vary between $2,500 and $3,500.”
“When you finish eight years you will move to the top of your scale and it is anticipated that by then persons will move to another scale in terms of promotion or whatever…So it will be hardly likely to find people on the same scale after eight years in the system,” Lyte added.
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