Teachers who have once again assembled in front of the Education Ministry on Brickdam road, Georgetown, in protest of the Government’s non-agreement to their requested salary increases, are now calling for the subject Minister, Nicolette Henry to resign.
Referencing the education Minister’s faux pas in confusing the national holidays of Phagwah and Diwali, the protesting teachers on Wednesday were heard chanting that “Phagwali must go!” as they held placards displaying same and maintaining that they will not cease strike unless their requests through the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) for a 40 per cent salary increase is granted.
On Monday last, (GTU) forged ahead with its planned countrywide strike and over 4,000 teachers took to the streets after Government failed to meet their demand.
President of GTU, Mark Lyte, had said “ the strike will continue until further notice,” but added that the Union is always open for discussion.
Teachers are seeking increases of 40 per cent under a multi-year arrangement up to 2020.
However, Government has maintained that it just cannot afford this proposal, offering a 2018-2019 pay off.
A third round of conciliation between the Education Ministry and the GTU on Thursday last ended again in impasse, as both parties refused to budge on their position.
At this point in time, Lyte said the Union feels arbitration might be the best option going forward.
Parents supporting Teachers
Meanwhile, on the heels of the strike by teachers countrywide for Government to increase their salaries, a small group of concerned parents stood in front of the Providence Primary School located on the East of Bank of Demerara on Wednesday morning, calling for the administration to accede to the GTU’s request.
At the scene, at least 15 individuals including members of the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) held placards which read “We stand with all teachers for a bright and better future for all our children,” “Pay our teachers!” and “No retired teachers!” among others.
Moreover, there were also calls for other parents to “support the nation’s teachers.”
“I’m grieving for them inside. Being a teacher is not an easy job….they’re asking for an increase [and] I don’t see anything is wrong with that,” said the mother of a Grade 6 Student.
She explained that with the strike, her child has not been able to get a head start on the upcoming Grade 6 examinations and so she is demanding that the Government grant the teacher’s their increases, so that normalcy can be returned to the schools.
Another concerned protester, identified as Peter Pooran told media operatives “I have my niece and nephews [attending this school] I am calling on the Minister to negotiate with the teachers…They deserve it…I just want them to come to a conclusion and pay the teachers.”
A member of the Providence Primary School’s PTA also said “I don’t see the reason why they’re taking so long [to grant] the 40%…The Teachers are doing a great job.”
Moreover, it was noted that some teachers who did not take part in the actual protests, simply expressed their support by not showing up to work, and some of those that did turn up at the respective schools, did not perform their duties.
Education Officials have been going around reportedly making enquires on absenteeism.
Some protesters called on President David Granger to pay more heed to the concerns the teachers are raising.
The Education Ministry has since activated a contingency plan where it intends to take on retired and trainee teachers of the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) as substitutes in addition to retired teachers as the strike action intensifies.
Parents are however concerned about the level of teaching their children will receive due to this.