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Teachers’ Union, govt open preparatory talks for arbitration; disagreement on some terms of reference

GTUC General Secretary, Coretta Mc Donald.

The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) and representatives from the Labour Department and the Ministry of Education met Tuesday to begin preparations for arbitration into a pay dispute for the country’s more than 10,000 public school teachers.

GTU General Secretary, Coretta Mc Donald told Demerara Waves Online News that draft terms of reference were presented by both teams but “there were a few where agreement could not be reached and it was agreed that clarity be sought.”

The two sides are expected to meet again on Friday at 1:30 PM; this time to discuss the composition of the arbitration panel, the secretary, secretariat and venue.

The decision to go to arbitration followed an almost two-week long strike by a fair number of the teachers over the need to be paid 40 percent increase in salaries for 2016 and five percent annually from 2017 to 2020.

Instead, government had offered GY$700 million for 2018 and GY$200 million to adjust the salary scales of some teachers in a process called de-bunching. Those offers were rejected and the teachers went on strike.

After the strike was called off last week Thursday when the Ministry of Education gave into demands by the union for conciliation, the union said it had been willing to accept a 20 percent salary increase.

With teachers having fully resumed duty, preparatory talks for arbitration began.