GTU head says it’s no longer about ‘what we are willing to accept’ as arbitration talks continue

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A previous meeting between the Union and Government

“It is no longer about what we are willing to accept but what we will have to take,” noted GTU President Mark Lyte as the second meeting kicked off on Friday between the Union and the Education Ministry to put an end to the teachers’ salary impasse.

The two parties are meeting again to agree on an arbitration panel to make a binding resolution on the current gridlock.

While conciliation was tried and ultimately unsuccessful, arbitration is expected to produce a definitive decision on benefits for teachers. This is because the arbitrator is appointed as an independent and neutral deal broker between the two sides.

The panel will be expected to broker a new multi-year agreement for the period 2016 to 2020. The last agreement expired in 2015. GTU has already rejected Government’s offer for teachers to get a debunching payoff of $200 million for 2018/19.

The offer of $700 million for salary increases for 2018 only were similarly rejected.

The GTU was seeking a 40 per cent salary increase for teachers, in addition to other benefits.

But Government rejected their proposal, citing the unavailability of funds.

Following this breakdown, GTU had orchestrated strike action across Guyana.

The strikes were subsequently called off when the arbitration process was agreed to between the Union and Government.

Several have called for Government to move to arbitration, with there even being talk of an overseas-based arbitrator.

The meeting, which was held at the Ministry of Social Protection, Labour Department on Tuesday last, centered on finalising the members of the arbitration panel including choosing a chairperson for the panel.

But the meeting was adjourned to today (Friday) as more time was requested.

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