Teachers’ benefits: Govt to meet with Union to discuss Committee’s recommendations – Harmon

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State Minister, Joseph Harmon

Government will be meeting with the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) on August 9, 2018, to provide a response to the recommendations made by the High Level Committee which was set up to discuss the salaries and benefits of teachers.

This is according to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who told media operatives that the Education Minister presented the report to the Cabinet at their last meeting.

“…Education Minister presented the report of the High Level Committee on Public Education…Recommendations made by High Level Committee…these need a response…Government  has come up with a response which will be given to Union – [basically] an answer to the recommendations made by High Level Committee…” he said.

The High Level Committee, which consists of Government Officials and representatives of GTU, was tasked with discussing the proposals of the Union for a multi-year agreement with Government in relation to the salaries and petitions of service for teachers.

Moreover, it was also mandated to provide recommendations regarding the Commission of Inquiry into education as it relates to the terms and conditions of teachers.

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo just recently chided the incumbent APNU+AFC Administration for delaying the process of meeting an agreement to raise teachers’ salaries.

Jagdeo, in questioning Government’s commitment to education in Guyana, posited that  President David Granger and his Cabinet have an obligation to address the concerns of teachers and should seek to have the issue of salary increases for teachers resolved quickly.

He recalled that during his tenure as President, he personally sat with the leadership of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) to discuss salaries and other benefits for teachers.

Jagdeo said he too worked  with the GTU to come up with a multi-year remuneration package for teachers, which included not only salaries, but a housing fund and duty-free concessions, among other incentives.

He urged the coalition Government to ensure that it responded to the concerns of the teachers, noting the importance of teachers to the education system and the country as a whole.

File photo: Members from the GTU meeting with President Granger in October of 2017

Last month, two letters were sent to President Granger, one by GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonald and the second by Union President Mark Lyte.

Both sought to enquire of the President and his Cabinet the reasons for the delayed remuneration package for teachers and also requested a timeline for its realisation.

While Education Minister Nicolette Henry has said that the matter was now in the hands of Cabinet and that recommendations were made and submitted for initial evaluation, the GTU said it was fed up.

Lyte told this media group last month that the Union has learnt unofficially that the work of the High-Level Task Force of Public Education has been dealt with by Cabinet.

The GTU official also pointed out that the Government has been claiming that teachers were important, yet its action seemed to differ as there was no real genuine effort being made to address their needs.

The Union has proposed a series of increases.

These, it said, were proposed with the aim of improving the financial stability of teachers, who are the most significant figures within society.

A 40 per cent salary increase for public school teachers was proposed for the year 2016. Over time, the percentage would be increased for all categories of represented teachers.

For the year 2017, the Union was hoping to have bargained for a 45 per cent increase, which would then increase to 50 per cent for the remainder of the years indicated in the agreement (2018-2020).

Among its list of proposals that are still in queue for a response are the duty-free concessions that the Union has been making pleas for in the past few years.

The proposal had been reapproved by Harmon, in 2017, but since then there have been no further discussions on when or if this would be implemented.

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