GTU, Education Ministry talks end in stalemate, as strike continues

Last Updated on Monday, 20 May 2024, 22:15 by Writer

GTU President Dr Mark Lyte (left) and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Shannielle Hoosein-Outar and other representatives from both sides leaving the Labour Ministry.

Talks between the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) and the Ministry of Education ended in a stalemate over the union’s demand for a 20-percent interim salary increase pending final negotiations and the need for a fixed timeframe for mediation, GTU President Mark Lyte said Monday.

No date has been fixed for the two sides to meet in the presence of the Chief Labour Officer, Dhaneshwar Deonarine. In that regard, Dr Lyte said the union was now eagerly awaiting feedback from the Education Ministry.

While that ministry had said the GTU’s demand for the pre-negotiations payout amounts to duress, the GTU President on Monday maintained that it is a “safety net for teachers who take a stand with the union” because of government’s history of negotiating in bad faith. “Given our experience in the past, we cannot compromise on that…An interim payment is necessary to bringing the situation to normalcy,” he told reporters outside the Labour Ministry.

The GTU President said the interim payment would be a guarantee that the government side would be serious about the negotiations, and any additional increases emerging out of negotiations whenever they are held would be an addition.

Dr Lyte said the strike, which would continue on Tuesday, was having the desired impact, even forcing the Education Ministry to call off end-of-term examinations and opt for continuous assessment of students.

The GTU is demanding salary negotiations from 2019 to 2023, while government is refusing to budge from offering a new multi-year agreement from 2024. The GTU’s proposal provides for 25 percent in 2019 and 20 percent for 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.