Dec 04, 2019 News
Government has announced plans to hike the pay package of public servants this month, retroactive to January. Teachers are likely to be included in this bundled pay out.
But although this could ensure they are able to engage in celebratory activities over the holidays, the Guyana Teachers Union [GTU] is not amused or even enthused for that matter, according to GTU President, Mr. Mark Lyte.
Lyte said that the union is especially disappointed that Government has effectively put on hold negotiations for a new salary package for public school teachers.
The negotiations were set in motion earlier this year upon the expiration of a multi-year agreement that ended last year for which the union fought valiantly.
Speaking of the current stalled negotiation process, Lyte said, “We would like the negotiations to continue from where we left off…We have signalled our intention to restart the negotiations a while now,” he added.
He, however, suspects that the process has been stalled due to the ongoing preparations for next year’s general elections slated for March 2020.
Moreover, Lyte said that any pay hike offered to teachers will only be considered an interim payment as it is expected that the government elected next year will be open to continue the salary negotiation process.
This publication understands that in its proposal the union is aiming for, among other things, a 25 percent across the board increase for teachers. The union is also proposing conditions for the re-employment of retired teachers; the need for grants for schools which are often subjected to inadequate stock; incentive for teachers with additional qualifications and those qualified in areas of physical education and special needs education.
“Some of the things we have fine-tuned them. We still have things like duty-free concessions, continuation of the Whitley Council [leave]…we are proposing adjustment to Whitley Council; we have clothing allowances; we have house-lots for teachers still on the cards and we do have other things like class size issues.
The class size for special needs schools, we are requesting a smaller number or in cases where the number cannot be smaller, we are recommending a teacher’s aide for the teachers so at all times there will be two persons to the class,” the GTU President told this publication of the proposal.
But even as the union looks forward to continued negotiations for a new multi-year salary package for teachers, Lyte noted that there are still some outstanding aspects of the previous agreement that have not yet been honoured.
Among these is a two percent difference in calculation of the salary increase owing to the fact that teachers, ahead of the union inking the last agreement with government, benefited from an increase paid to public servants.
Lyte said that special needs teachers are yet to receive a $10,000 allowance and moves are still being made to finalise a housing revolving fund report. The revolving fund initiative was one intended to lend support to teachers to become homeowners but there were some challenges, which hindered its efficacy which must be addressed.
Teachers are also waiting to be entered into a ‘debunching scheme’, which was included in the last agreement.
This publication understands that a scaled debunching system for teachers should have been applied since earlier this year. Based on the now expired agreement, teachers were paid a one-off $350M for debunching monies owed to them for the period 2011 – 2018 and the scaled system should have been subsequently activated.
The union, in its representation of its membership, has also been advocating for a new programme of recognition for teachers as they advance their qualifications.
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