Manickchand blasts GTU over erroneous claims during protest

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GTU members protest in front of the Education Ministry

Members of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) today protested in front the Ministry of Education at Brickdam, Georgetown, demanding that Education Minister Priya Manickchand address several issues such as salary increase, debunching, lack of consultation, the reshuffling of head teachers, grants, school records, among other things.

GTU President Mark Lyte told media operatives that “all we’ve had are promises and we believe that time has come for us to be honoured.”

He contended that “our teachers worked through the pandemic sending our children to write the CSEC and CAPE examinations, several of them had to use their own resources to engage the learners online and we also believed that not enough attention is focused on the teachers having what is due to them.”

Lyte also argued that the GTU is no longer being invited to meetings with the Education Ministry.

“We’ve had enough and we’re about to take the necessary actions so that our interest can be represented,” the GTU Head contended.

Education Minister Priya Manickchand

In a press conference to respond to the GTU’s claims, Minister Manickchand rubbished the allegations made by Lyte.

The Education Minister reminded that since the PPP/C Government took office in August 2020, she has met with the Union six times.

“We decided, at my invitation, that we were going to meet statutorily every month as parties. The Ministry of Education and all its professional officers as well as the Union and as many people as they would like to invite and that has happened. In fact, we have met over the course of the last nine months or eleven months six or seven times…”

However, she pointed out that as of recent, the GTU has not been attending the meetings.

“The last few times we have invited the Union to meetings on our statutory date. The Union has been putting the meetings off. I thought, at the time, and I still hope that those were genuine postponements, and issue wasn’t created so that we could end up in this problem now,” the Minister explained.

Minister Manickchand also mentioned that it was made clear that if the Union has any problems, they should consult with her, but instead they have been postponing their meetings, and has not been turning up when invited to events.

“We’ve invited the Union to a monthly meeting and all reginal education officers are saying that they have invited the Union to every meeting except Region Six, we will fix that,” she stated, noting that representatives of the GTU failed to attend.

In terms of the other concerns raised by the GTU, the Minister posited that those are uncalled for, since the Government has been working assiduously to ensure that all teachers are being treated fairly. She noted too that many of the issues are under active discussions.

Moreover, the Education Minister indicated that the Union needs to stop acting like a political organisation.

“The Union must decide if it wants to separate itself from being a political organisation, if it wants to separate itself from the nasty politics of the APNU+AFC and continue being a professional body or if it wants to engage in that kind of politics.”