Teachers receiving same salaries as public servants was never the final position- Harmon

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-GTU agrees to meeting with President to chart the way forward

Following the fallout from the meeting held on Thursday with the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) and Government officials, including the Education Minister, Nicolette Henry, over their salary negotiations, a subsequent meeting was held on Friday with State Minister, Joseph Harmon.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon

A joint press statement was then issued outlining that the initial meeting with the team from the Education Ministry was “never intended to be the final position of the Administration but rather an interim arrangement.”

The initial walk out was prompted by Minister Henry informing the Union that Government could only offer teachers the same increases it offered all public servants.

Government had announced its “final offer” to the unionized workers in the Public Service—an increase in the minimum wage from $55,000 per month to $60,000 along with staggered increases in wages and salaries with the band of lowest paid workers being offered an eight per cent increase.

Harmon in the joint statement was attributed as saying that “the President was very concerned about the reports regarding the outcome of the meeting between the Union and the Ministry of Education and had signaled his willingness to meet with the Union on Monday October 30, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. to discuss all matters of concern to the Union.”

The Union indicated its acceptance of the President’s offer and “iterated that it was committed to the process of Collective Bargaining and that it would bring these developments to the attention of its members.”

Teachers were on Thursday asked to prepare for possible strike action next week following the initial disagreement with the Ministry of Education on salary increases, which led to representatives of the Guyana Teachers Union walking out of the discussion.

Government officials and the GTU during the meeting held on Thursday

The Union has been calling for salary increases for teachers for the period 2016 to 2020.

The Union is seeking across the board salary increases of 40 per cent for 2016, 45 per cent for 2017, 50 per cent for 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Furthermore, they requested that the teachers be given a 3 per cent performance based incentive per year throughout the multi-year agreement.

GTU is also advocating for teachers to be paid double salary for the month of December.

Additionally, the Union is firmly demanding that teachers be granted increased salaries per each qualification- which means teachers with Certificates of Education, management certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and Master’s Degree will receive an additional amount ranging from $6,000 to $35,000.

Moreover, the Ministry is expected to provide a uniform allowance on a yearly basis of $25,000.

The GTU is also calling for duty free concessions for vehicles up to 2700c for Head Teachers.

Prior to the meeting with the Education Ministry on Thursday, GTU President Mark Lyte had said that protest action was imminent since after more than two years, officials at the Ministry of Education remain reluctant to have a sit down with the Union and discuss debunching payments.

He had noted that the teachers are becoming more frustrated by the day, and warned of the consequences if the teachers decide to down tools to make their voices heard.

“Another budget would be presented and we have not come to an agreement for the proposal. We believe that this is disrespectful and comes in direct contravention to the labour agreement (in effect) between the Ministry and the Union, and it is a clear fact that this Administration is not seeking to properly remunerate our teachers,” Lyte had said.

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