Govt will ensure teachers receive better package, says Harmon

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State Minister Joseph Harmon

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon on Friday said that government is doing its best to ensure teachers get a better package than what they are currently receiving.

His comment comes hours before the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU) return to the negotiation table with Government to arrive at an agreement.

“We are certainly going to try to find common ground. We will explore all possibilities,” Harmon said.

However, when asked whether government is willing to revise its offer to the Union, Harmon said that the negotiating team will be making that determination.

He added that Government is looking to provide additional resources to teachers saying that “teachers belong in the classrooms and not in the streets”.

GTU on Monday circulated a letter informing the Government and the public of its decision to strike after consultations with the Government saw their requests for salary increases being denied.

Even though there is a task force consisting of Government Ministers which had the input of Government regarding salary increases for teachers across Guyana, it was indicated to GTU on that a specialist would have to be contracted to determine the increases.

This was told to the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU) President, Mark Lyte as Government rejected the Union’s proposal which has since resulted in the treat of industrial actions.

A letter sent out by GTU informed teachers that they are not to report for pre-term activities until further notice.

GTU President, Mark Lyte

Last week, the GTU Executive met with Education Minister Nicolette Henry and Social Protection Minister Amna Ally, among other senior officials, to iron out issues surrounding the teachers’ salary increases.

However, Government shot down the Union’s entire proposal in regard to increase.

The Union had initially requested a 40 per cent increase in 2016; 45 per cent in 2017, and 50 per cent in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

However, they eventually compromised during the negotiation phase and agreed to accept a 40 per cent to serve as a base from 2016 with a 5 per cent incremental increase for the remaining years.

The letter stated that the decision was taken by the GTU on the insistence of its members to call strike action due to failed talks between them and MoE. The Union views the counter-proposal tabled by MoE as an insult to the integrity of all teachers in Guyana.

“We believe that enough patience was exhibited by the Union to allow MoE to arrive at a satisfactory proposal. Strike will officially commence on 27 August 2018, and will continue until further notice. GTU calls on all teachers to join in this justified action, since our rights are being infringed by our employer. This decision is supported not only by General Council, but our private opinion poll among teachers and civic-minded persons across Guyana indicates that teachers nationwide have full support for this action,” the letter stated.

Teachers are urged to begin handing over the school’s key to the respective Education Departments.

The Guyana Teachers’ Union has been engaged in discussions with the Government since 2015, when their multi-year agreement came to an end.

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