Former President and current Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo says that the Education Minster, Nicolette Henry would have been sanctioned under the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Administration for the “disparaging” way in which she dealt with teachers during the ongoing salary impasse.
Speaking at his weekly press conference held at his Church Street, Georgetown office on Thursday, Jagdeo schooled how the opposition would’ve handled the issue with the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU), noting that under the PPP/C earlier engagements with the Union would have been had.
“You would’ve seen a much earlier engagement from the PPP and not to create this acrimony, but any Minister who dealt with the teachers in such a disparaging way would have been sanctioned” Jagdeo said.
Further, the former President condemned the lavish spending of the coalition APNU/AFC Government which, according to him, if slashed could finance the demands of GTU.
“And then, you wouldn’t have had us spending all of this money, or wasting all of this money some $5.1B on food and increasing rental and local travels, that fund can go there (towards salary increases)… so monies being spent wastefully would not have been spent “ Jagdeo posited.
Commenting on the meeting held on Monday with President David Granger, the Education Ministry and the Union, Jagdeo commended the move.
He however, questioned whether the President is familiar with the current affairs surrounding the salary impasse, noting that he seems confused.
“I’m seeing some differences, like the President says that new matters were raised by teachers that he was surprised about, that they did not raise at his meeting. Those matters are not new to me and I’m an outsider…those matters that the teachers are discussing now, that they spoke about, they have been part of their initial proposal from the beginning. The President did not check the initial proposal by teachers that was made two years ago…because the issues are not new issues” Jagdeo noted.
Moreover, Jagdeo questioned the effectiveness of the meeting which according to him seems like the beginning of yet another merry-go-round.
“He promises a joint review, same thing that was promised when the Task Force was put together… so he has gone pass conciliation and arbitration and looking at settlement. He went back to the table which I support, but this doesn’t mean that if this fails they won’t go back to conciliation or arbitration. The President needs to be briefed more on this issue” said Jagdeo.
The fingers of teachers across Guyana are crossed as they are awaiting what they hope to be the final meeting to be held on Friday between government and the Union.
At a two hours long meeting held on Wednesday between the Union and the Ministry of Education representatives of the Union were seen with smiling faces and teachers were assured that they can sleep well as the two parties have agreed to review new information which was not presented before, to reach an agreement by Friday.
In a statement to the media, it was related that “the two parties have committed to review the new Information with a view of ensuring that the interest of all teachers will be considered”.
Further it was pointed out that “The Ministry of Education has undertaken to provide a matrix of figures which will be presented for discussion on October 12, 2018”. (Kizzy Coleman)