GTU accuses govt of attempting to break up union

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 September 2021, 20:34 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) on Tuesday accused government of dismantling that organisation, in the wake of the Ministry of Education’s decision to take away the processing of duty-free concessions and scholarships for teachers from that union.

“GTU wishes to inform the general public of the MoE’s (Ministry of Education’s) attempt to orchestrate union busting,” the union said. Deeming the Education Ministry’s move as a “clear attempt to drive fear among our teachers”, the union added that the employer resorted to “pettiness” un response to open criticism.

Denying once again that the GTU was using the award of scholarships and grant of duty-free concessions as a weapon against teachers who refused to participate in protests against the COVID measures, that union’s claim of “union busting” came one day before the Ministry of Education was scheduled to launch “teachers’ welfare and benefits programme.” Features of that initiative include special discounts at businesses, comprehensive health care, revolving mortgage, national teachers’ awards programme, and an annual teachers’ conference.

The GTU, for its part, challenged the Ministry of Education to prove that the scholarship and vehicle duty-free concessions were being dangled over teachers as leverage to respond to protests against the requirement for teachers to take a COVID jab or produce a negative PCR test weekly. “These allegations are blatant lies, we challenge MoE to produce evidence of such mismanagement and threats to teachers,” the union said.

The union said the 2018 agreement with the Ministry of Education for the workers’ organisation to determine the recipients of scholarships to study at the University of Guyana and vehicle duty-free concessions could not be unilaterally withdrawn. “GTU wishes to inform the general public of …. MoE’s lack of knowledge that there is a current enforced MoE and GTU Agreement. This agreement remains enforced until a new one is signed,” the union said.

The GTU stated that the MoE’s decision to take back responsibility for the scholarships and duty free concessions was a “direct response” to the ongoing protest against forced vaccination and monies owed to teachers.

The GTU explained that the scholarship committee over the years has included an officer from the Personnel Department of Ministry of Education. The union explained that the 100 duty free concessions annually for four categories of teachers would always result in members feeling that they are slighted.  Instead, the union said a caring Education Ministry would have allotted more than the 100 annually.

The GTU did not publicise a schedule of its protests, as had been promised and there were very few persons outside the Ministry of Education on Monday.