Guyana Teacher’s strike continues on Monday

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The authorities and representatives of the Guyana Teacher’s Union left the first round of mediations between both sides with a positivity, believing that they could come to a consensus with continued dialogue.

Darren Wade, who is the attorney representing the GTU’s interests stated that he was “very optimistic” in light of recent developments and expects a settlement to be reached, which will help bring an end to the strike.

The first session of mediations between the lawyers representing the union and the Ministry of Education lasted two hours and was a High Court appointed process which both parties had to follow.

It has been revealed that the representatives of the union brought a proposal to the mediators, attorneys Robin Stoby and Edward Luckhoo, both of whom have refrained from giving their opinions on the proceedings.

Darshan Ramdhani, who is the legal representative of the government, stated that the session was quite fruitful and that the framework for facilitating the end of the strike is being prepared, which will bring students and teachers back into classrooms.

The mediation process is set to resume on Friday and the strike will continue from Monday onwards, until the issues between the two sides are resolved.

Darshan Ramdhani stated while speaking to reporters, “We have had a very, I believe, a fruitful session. It is good that the union is ready now to engage the government again so we are hoping that those talks can resume.”

Ramdhani added that the mediators did an excellent job and played their role well, which is to the benefit of both sides.

He added, “We hope that we will get something to get the teachers back into the school. The government’s main priority is to ensure that the teachers return to the school. That’s where they belong. Our nation’s children should be taught.”

While answering a question asked by a reporter, he also said, “We are always reasonable and we hope that reason prevails and that reasonable requests will be met. We are still discussing the modality and mechanism on the way forward.”

This is a departure from the approach taken last year when President Irfaan Ali called the industrial action illegal and the authorities ignored repeated calls for collective bargaining. Instead of that, they engaged with a specific section of teachers to hear their requests and grievances, which did not go down well with the Guyana Teacher’s Union.

Dr Ashni Singh, who is a Senior Finance Minister, issued a statement in December, in which an increase in salaries by 6.5% was announced for 54,000 public servants, teachers, members of the disciplined services and government pensioners.

It was also mentioned that an annual disposable income to the tune of an additional GUY$7.5 billion, would be placed in the hands of these employees to assuage their concerns.

The Guyana Teacher’s Union on the other hand is seeking a salary hike of 25% for 2019 and 20% for 2019 to 2023. Additionally, the GTU is also asking for performance-based incentives valued at 2% annually.

To add to the aforementioned demands, the union is also asking for a GUY$10,000 monthly allowance for teachers who make use of their own vehicles for official duties, a GUY$5,000 emotional/ stress/risk allowance and a monthly Internet allowance of GUY$10,000.

Beyond these demands, a fixed monthly allowance of GUY$7,000 for headteachers and principals has also been proposed and is meant to help pursue business interests on behalf of their respective institutions.

The good news though, is that after the conclusion of the first round of talks between both sides, they made a commitment to continue the process on Monday.

Both sides have also made an informal commitment to not discuss the details of the proceedings with media personnel to preserve the sanctity of the efforts being made by either side.

The Guyana Teacher’s Union continues to stand fast on its demand for collective bargaining with regards to wages, which is the primary criteria which needs to be met to have the strike called off.

The strike began on the 5th of February, amidst increased tensions between the government and the union and has continued since.

Following Justice Sandil Kissoon’s push for mediation on the matter, President Dr Mark Lyte of the Guyana Teacher’s Union clarified that the primary issue on the agenda must be the hike in salaries.

The resolution of this matter is of the utmost importance as the strike is affecting students all over the nation and has also had an effect on the job security of teachers as well.

Ana Allen
Ana Allenhttp://writeups24.com
Anna Allen, news writer at Writeups24, is a Harvard graduate with a passion for journalism. With her keen eye for detail and insatiable curiosity, she captures the essence of global stories. Anna's writing informs and delves into cultural nuances. To reach Anna, you can email contact@writeups24.com

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