Teachers Union announces strike resumption from Thursday

Last Updated on Tuesday, 7 May 2024, 21:47 by Writer

The Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) on Tuesday announced that from Thursday May 9, 2024, teachers would be resuming strike to once again pressure government into negotiating increased salaries from 2019 t0 2023, a position that government has already rejected.

“Because of the absence of collective bargaining, on the part of the government, the Ministry of Education to address the conditions under which teachers work, especially as it relates to salaries, we are here to announce that from Thursday, May 9th, the strike option will resume in all education districts all across Guyana,” GTU President Dr Mark Lyte told a news conference.

After the 29-day strike and a High Court decision in favour of the GTU, government maintained its refusal to negotiate for that period but instead was ready to do so for a multi-year agreement starting 2024.

With the government signaling that it would be appealing Justice Sandil Kissoon’s judgement to the Guyana Court of Appeal and with the likelihood that the case going to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Guyana’s final court of appeal, the GTU said it was aware of the risk of ultimately losing the case but was prepared to return to the streets for a “liveable salary that is compatible with our years of training and experience.” “We have considered that. Everything is a risk when we took the matter to court it was a risk when we stood out there for 29 days, it was a risk and I believe that the situation at hand warrants the risk,” he said.

In Guyana, Grade ‘A’ school head teachers take home GY$280,000 and the lowest take-home is about GY$90,000 compared to a number of Caribbean countries where teachers with a Bachelor’s Degree earn more than US$2,000.00

The GTU President highlighted that the strike from Thursday would be a “resumption”, based on the High Court’s decision that the strike was “lawful and legitimate” because government had refused numerous efforts to go to the bargaining table over a protracted period of time. Against that background, the GTU insisted that the strike from Thursday would be legal. “The court ruled that our strike was legally done and this is a resumption or continuation of the strike, so based on the court’s ruling, we are following all the steps needed for the process of collective bargaining to take place and so we believe that the strike is legal there are those who are going to come out and say it’s illegal, it’s racial, it’s political but the teachers understand that it’s our bread and butter.”

Dr Lyte said the Minister of Education Priya Manickchand, Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton, Chief Education Officer Saddam Hussain and the Chief Labour Officer Dhaneshwar Deonarine were informed Tuesday about the impending resumption of the strike on Thursday. However, up to the time of the news conference, he said there was no response. The notification of strike action, he said was also copied to the International Labour Organisation, Caribbean Union of Teachers and Education International.