Guyana Teacher’s Union goes on nationwide strike

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The Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU) has announced a general strike to press the government to meet its demand for increased salaries for teachers and is currently assessing the response to the call for the nationwide strike.

This development has come at a crucial time for the education system in the nation as students in Guyana are currently preparing for the National Grade Six Assessment examination and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examination.

Dr Mark Lyte, who is the President of the Guyana Teacher’s Union, stated the following while speaking to an online news portal, “We are currently assessing the turnout, but generally, teachers indicated they are in support.”

Reports suggest that members of the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU) have been subjected to intimidation and threats due to the strike. Having said that, Dr Mark Lyte has clarified that, “I am not aware of any threats issued by GTU to teachers.”

It is important to note that prior to the industrial action being taken, Chief Education Officer Saddam Hussain had issued a warning to teachers in the nation who were planning to go on strike, that their actions would be illegal and merit ramifications.

He also issued an open letter addressed to teachers and head teachers in the nation, in which he stated the following, “To be clear, the MoE (Ministry of Education) has received advice from the Ministry of Labour, the experts on this issue, that conditions for strike action have not been met as a result of which any such strike would be wholly illegal and unlawful.”

He highlighted the fact that if the call for a general strike is heeded by the teachers in Guyana, it would have an adverse effect on the National Grade Six Assessment and Caribbean Secondary Education examinations which students are preparing for.

Hussain went on to add that, “The threat of industrial action sets a bad precedence since this is the final term before the NGSA and CSEC exams. Any disruption to the teaching-learning process could affect individual children and their future thereby hampering the ability for families to use education to exit poverty.”

The authorities have also informed the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU) that their strike is in violation of the memorandum of agreement signed between the union and the Ministry of Education.

Dhaneshwar Deonarine, the Chief Labour Officer, has stated that the correct procedures for filing grievances have not been followed in this case and that the union’s request to send the matter for arbitration has been denied as they are in breach of the procedures that have been established.

Education Minister Priya Manickchand, spoke on behalf of the Irfaan Ali government in a statement on Sunday night.

In said statement, she delineated that the government has satisfied the demand for 25 of the 41 benefits that the union is seeking, while the Education Ministry has met the demand for 28 other benefits, which are aimed at improving the condition of teachers in the nation.

The matter has been complicated by the fact that last year the government refrained from engaging in collective bargaining with the union, as was its demand and instead engaged with a specific section of teachers to hear their demands and grievances.

Last December, Senior Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, released a statement in which she said that an overarching salary increase by 6.5% will apply to 54,000 public servants, teachers, members of the disciplined services and government pensioners.

She also made the commitment to place another GUY$7.5 billion at the disposal of these employees to ease their burden.

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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