Education Ministry/GTU meeting: Education Ministry wants “constructive” conversations with GTU during negotiations

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Education Minister Priya Manickchand and GTU President Mark Lyte

The Education Ministry is aiming to have constructive engagements with the Guyana Teachers’ Union, as negotiations commence this week on a series of issues to be ventilated, including increased salaries for teachers.

In a statement issued after the mediation had concluded, the Education Ministry disclosed, “The Ministry of Education welcomes this decision, even as it notes that it is unfortunate that this matter had to be determined by the court, where the outcome mirrors exactly what the Ministry has been saying even before the strike began: that the Ministry is happy to continue with the healthy and constructive conversations that have been ongoing, and which have produced several noteworthy results that ensured to the benefit of teachers.”

It has been added that both parties would meet at the MoE boardroom within 48 hours of the resumption of duties to discuss relevant matters of interest.

“Parents are asked to send their children out to school for normal school day activities,” the missive added.

GTU President Mark Lyte told media operatives that the strike is officially over, and that financial matters are foremost on the agenda to be ventilated. As talks were wrapped up, he disclosed, “There are quite a lot of other things that are included in the proposal we presented, but finance is one of the critical ones that we will be pushing…It sets the framework for the process to commence collective bargaining. As you’ve heard, the Ministry of Education is saying everything is on the table. Our previous engagements were just policies in nature, now they are committing to deal with all the financial matters, so we consider this to be an attempt to treat with collective bargaining.”

Mediators, Senior Counsels Edward Luckhoo and Robin Stoby (in the background) leaving the mediation at the High Court on Friday

In recent weeks, the Government has outlined that $135 billion has been allocated to the education sector this year to better working conditions for teachers. This is significantly more than the $52.7 billion allocated by the former APNU/AFC coalition in their last budget before demitting office.

A comparison shows that this now puts $694,000 per child for the 180,000 students in the sector, as opposed to $310,000 per year for 170,000 in 2019.

Previously, the GTU had proposed 41 areas identified for better working conditions for teachers. Over the three years, the Education Ministry has fulfilled 25 of those requests. The areas in which the MoE and the GTU have not reached an agreement include: salary increases for some scales (MoE has gone above GTU’s request for some scales), allowances, rehired teachers being paid at the scale that they retired at, housing fund (which the Union has repeatedly failed to give a way forward for, although the fund has a few hundred million dollars put there by the Government), and salary scales for different HoDs and Sixth Form Deputy Heads, payment for the marking of SBAs, and house lots for teachers in each new housing scheme.