As much as the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) would like to see the teachers’ wages dispute being resolved today, the President of the Union, Lincoln Lewis has said he has no faith that the meeting will bring an end to the impasse.
He made this statement during an interview with <<<<Inews>>>> on Thursday. The trade unionist explained, “I am not optimistic that that tomorrow (today) they are going to come to a resolution. What they need to do is get all the actors on the table”.
According to him, there are several other Ministers and Ministries which need to be involved to sort out the ongoing dispute between the two. “It requires getting all the players, the Ministry of Finance, because they will have to find the money (and the) Social Protection (Ministry) under which the Labour Department falls. Together, the parties have to sit down to find a resolution to this issue,” the trade unionist asserted.
He related that while the process of arbitration has not been wiped off the table, the GTU is now towing the line as the Education Ministry and itself have engaged in bilateral discussions to address the issue.
Lewis said his Union has been in talks with the GTU as they continue to draft plans for what was referred to as unmentionable at this time. He explained, “I’ve been talking with the GTU and I won’t want to talk about what was discussed at this time”.
Although several calls went unanswered by the GTU executives, the union’s President, Mark Lyte disclosed that they are hopeful that the matter will be resolved today.
Asked whether teachers could return the streets if talks failed, he said, “Let’s wait for that time”.
At today’s meeting the GTU is expected to meet with the Education Ministry which has taken on the responsibility of presenting a “matrix of figures” for teachers.
At the last meeting held on Wednesday, both parties were reluctant to give information in relation to a figure being discussed for teachers.
They would only say that talks so far are fruitful and “new information was provided that was not discussed nor considered prior to the offers made earlier”.
When asked what were the “new information” General Secretary of the GTU, Coretta McDonald explained, “Well of course we would want to have all of our teachers benefiting from whatever the increase is going to be so… we would have had promotions and so with promotions come new salaries and so those are all new information”.
Meanwhile, the Education Minister described the new salaries for teachers as “a work in progress”. “If we may say it’s a work in progress and so the new information is nothing specific that we would wish to share at this point in time. A lot of what has to be sorted out requires the interaction of both parties so that we can resolve the issue”.
On Monday, President David Granger offered a 10 per cent increase for 2016 and eight per cent for 2018.
The GTU had also said in a social media post that, “…an offer of $350 million is made to settle debunching for the period 2011-2018. Teachers to be placed in scales as of January 2019. Payments for debunching and 2018 will be made in December while retroactive 2016 increase will be made in January 2019 if agreed”.
The Head of State said on Wednesday that he was shocked by the Union’s rejection of the offer.
Initially, the GTU was calling for a 40 per cent increase and were set for arbitration after calling off a nationwide strike on September 6. They were however, ready to head back into the streets after the Education Ministry and itself was unable to agree on an arbitration panel.
This had led to the present conciliator, Minister Keith Scott, unilaterally appointing a Chairman who was introduced as University of Guyana Professor, Leyland Lucas.
This time around the GTU were promising an even massive protest, as its sister unions, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) joined them in their call for better wages for teachers.