EYEWITNESS: Relooking…

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…at Teachers’ salaries

Now that the Teachers Union has threatened to strike, the PNC-led Government has scurried to placate them! Minister Henry says as far as she’s concerned, they still “talking”. From what the goodly Minister has revealed – over three full pages of advertisement in SOME of the dailies – it’s clear the major sticking point is the 40% salary increase for 2016, 45% for 2017, 50% for 2018 and 2019, and 55% in 2020 the teachers are demanding.

After reaching an impasse at the negotiating table, the Govt proposed and the Union accepted (the Ministry says) the services of a “specialist” to work with them. Now this is where your Eyewitness has some problems understanding what’s going on. The Government has been insisting it’s willing to grant increases – but based on what “it can afford”.

Now what does this mean? The Government provided (it says) a “ball park” figure based on the “present salary scales” – but it has not made public which “ball park” it picked. Bourda, for instance, is very much smaller than Providence!! From the teachers union’s response – strike!! – it would seem the Government’s “ball park” can’t facilitate their demands.

So, is the ‘specialist’ a neutral person who’s authorised to pick a bigger “ball park”? Or is he just supposed to come up with various permutations and combinations that would divvy up the same old, non-acceptable “ball park”? If it’s the latter, then the Government is just wasting the services of the (paid) “specialist”.

Even though the Guyanese student population may be challenged mathematically, your Eyewitness is pretty sure the teachers already sliced and diced the Government’s “ball park” and found it severely wanting (more!).

After all, the Teachers Union is inclined to support this government and wouldn’t want to embarrass it unnecessarily, would it? So, unless all of this is an intricately choreographed flamenco dance with tons of stamping of feet and angry glances, but which would end up with a tight embrace and a lip lock, the Government would’ve been behaving outside the norms of politicians looking to get re-elected!!

And what are those norms?? First, you consolidate your base by any means necessary – including doing what’s not in the best interest of the country. Like unaffordable raises! The teachers of Guyana – like the Public Servants they’ve been lumped with for the salary increases over the past two years – are PNC supporters. And this means – unlike PPPites – they’d be willing to challenge their government on economic grounds. They mightn’t actually vote PPP in the 2020 elections if they don’t get their way. But they may stay at home.

Is the PNC willing to play Russian Roulette? Your Eyewitness thinks not! A settlement will come!!

…at African gold miners

The Ministry of Natural Resources ran their latest fortnightly full page ad bigging themselves up – Natural Resources Extracts – to wish the country “Happy 180th Emancipation Anniversary”. They declared: “The descendants of freed Africans were the pioneers of the mining industry in Guyana and the industry stands on their shoulders.”

More specifically, the descendants of the freed African slaves pioneered the GOLD Mining Industry – along with the Portuguese – late in the 19th Century. They were the famed and fabled “pork knockers” who went into the bush in search of fortune. “Fame” came from their exploits when they returned to the coast with (literally, in some instances!) money to burn!!

Very few of these hard-working pork-knockers parlayed their gold into substantial businesses, like the Portuguese families did. But at least both groups of gold miners were Guyanese.

Unfortunately, our present leaders haven’t learnt the lesson from those days. Today, most of our gold’s being mined by big expatriate firms that transfer their money to their “home” countries – to facilitate development there.

And we’re left to “such salt”.

…at “elders”

Your Eyewitness noted that old-time PNC enforcer Hamilton Green signed his letter affirming support for Clive Thomas’s “cash for oil” proposal, as “Elder”.

Is this the African designation or is he just acknowledging he’s old?

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