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Teachers’ union never agreed to specialist to calculate pay hike; Education Minister to be officially notified of strike call

FLASH BACK: President David Granger being escorted in the Guyana Teachers’ Union compound, Woolford Avenue, Georgetown on May Day, 2018.

President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union, Mark Lyte said the long-running pay dispute with government might be headed for arbitration, even as he Friday prepared to officially inform the Ministry of Education  that teachers would embark on strike action later this month.

Denying that the GTU had agreed that the Ministry of Education should hire a specialist to calculate how much each category of teachers should be paid from an available GY$700 million for 2018 alone, Lyte said the GTU was insisting on a multi-year agreement from 2016 to 2019. Lyte said the Ministry of Education wrongfully included the hiring of a specialist in its minutes of Thursday’s meeting.

“That is the ministry writing their own thing because we didn’t agree to that and logics will say we can’t agree to a specialist if we don’t agree to what was offered. We rejected the salary offer that was put on the table and the salary offer came with a condition that the government was willing to hire a specialist for us to calculate,” he said.

The GTU President said the Ministry of Education was likely to write its own document and the union’s delegation did not read the minutes to say what aspects it had agreed to. “They just put out their own minutes. They are noted for doing those things,” Lyte said.

The Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry was Friday expected to be officially notified of strike action from August 27 straight into the first week of the new school year. Effectively, that means there would be no preparation of classrooms, notes of lessons, registration of students and orientation exercises.

Lyte said the options of conciliation and arbitration were available to the union which is now mobilising members for industrial unrest.

The GTU President expressed concern that apparently “no attention” has been paid to recommendations by a high-level task force that was appointed by President David Granger in November, 2017 when the union had first threatened strike action.

At that time, government had persuaded the union to accept the 2017 public sector pay increase of between half a percent for the highest paid and eight percent for the lowest paid as an interim offer.

Top GTU officials have accused the David Granger-led administration of breaking its 2015 general election campaign promises to deliver higher salaries and better working conditions to teachers.