Teachers’ strike: Gov’t reconvening meeting with GTU tomorrow

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Education Minister Nicolette Henry and CEO Marcel Hutson at a recent meeting with parents

A fourth meeting has been scheduled to be held tomorrow (Thursday) between the Government and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) with regards to the salary increases and benefits being demanded by the currently striking teachers.

The meeting, which has been reconvened through the “mediators,” the Ministry of Social Cohesion’s Labour Occupational Safety and Health Department, will be conducted in the Boardroom of the Labour Department at 13:30h.

This is according to a letter issued by the Department to the President of the GTU, Mark Lyte.

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.

Tomorrow’s meeting is a follow up to the one held last week Thursday when a third round of conciliation between the Education Ministry and the GTU ended in an impasse, as both parties refused to budge on their positions.

Lyte has since explained that the Union is seeking arbitration as the best option going forward.

File photo: GTU President Mark Lyte speaking to media operatives at the protest on Monday last in front of the Ministry of the Presidency

However, according to Lyte, since Government failed to reach out to them since last week’s meeting, the Union on Monday, forged ahead with its planned countrywide strike.

“The strike will continue until further notice,” he had stated, but added that the Union is always open for discussion.

The first day of school (September 3, 3018) was met with thousands of teachers staging strikes and refusing to teach as they stood in support of the Union.

Solidarity

In solidarity with the teachers, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), which held their conference, “Sugar – too big to fail” on September 04, 2018, at the Grand Coastal Hotel, Le Ressouvenir, East Coast Demerara, said that several speakers, during their interventions, reflected on the strike action taken by the teachers.

Arising from those discussions, GAWU outlined that the Conference approved the following resolution in support of the teachers and their protest actions:-

“Whereas the teachers are in the forefront of educating our nation and whereas the wages they receive cannot sustain them and their families;

Whereas this Conference on the future of the sugar industry in Guyana recognizes the need for the improvement in the benefits of our teachers, and

Be it resolved that this Conference calls upon the Government to consider meeting the just demands of the teachers in an effort at ending the strike or alternatively agree to take the dispute to arbitration.”

Moving the resolution was FITUG’s President, Carvil Duncan and it was seconded by GTUC General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis and was fully endorsed by the Conference.

Moreover, GAWU, in expressing solidarity and support, said the teachers are more than justified in their demands.

“They, like all workers and Guyanese, are only seeking to live a comfortable and fulfilling life where they can afford the basic necessities.”

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