GTU not serious about conciliation following series of demands – AG

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Education Ministry officials and GTU representative during the discussions on Tuesday

…says Union using teachers to push other agenda

In light of the recent ultimatum issued by the Guyana Teachers’ Union concerning the 20 per cent across-the-board increase for teachers, Attorney General Anil Nandlall believes that while the Government is making every effort to end the impasse, the Union continues to stall the process.

He made this disclosure during a recent interview on the National Communications Network (NCN) during which he added that the Education Ministry has scrupulously and studiously complied with provisions of the ruling of the court and the labour act to resolve the impasse.

As such, conciliation talks between the two parties had commenced under the watchful eyes of the Labour Ministry, but on the second day, the Union demanded that an interim 20 per cent increase be paid to teachers before any conciliation regarding the time frame for the payment period for salary increases continues.

On this note, Nandlall stated that even before an outcome of the previous impasse, another has surfaced.

“You have to agree first to resolve the impasse and then negotiate around that particular impasse what is the deadlock – 2019 to 2023 or 2024 onwards. Rather than negotiating a breaking of that deadlock, the GTU has now put on the table as conditions precedent, a series of demands which they are saying unless these demands are met, then we can’t start the conciliation.”

The Attorney General added that conciliation by law can only proceed upon the resumption of work while adding conciliation cannot subsist during a strike.

“In order for the conciliation to even start, you have to go back to work, but the Union has now imposed upon the conciliation a regime of demands which they are saying must be addressed before the conciliation even begins. Now that is in bad faith, that is contrary to the principles of conciliation and may very well be unlawful.”

Further, Nandlall stated that with the new regime of demands, he was confident that the GTU was not serious about conciliation and added that the teachers were being used for the Union’s own agenda.

“This union has illustrated even to those in support of it that they are not serious about conciliation; they are not serious about resolving any impasse. This industrial action is not a bona fide one, it is influenced by other considerations. This 20 per cent demand for an increase in salary in my view demonstrates that the teachers are simply being used as a tool for the prosecution of some other objective, nothing to do with their welfare and their interest.”

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

Further, weighing in on the Union’s request for Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton to recuse himself from the conciliation talks, the AG stated that the Labour Minister was appointed by the Parliament to perform those functions.

“It is the labour act… it is the laws of Guyana which say who is to perform the functions that Joseph Hamilton is currently performing so it is not opened to any party,” he stressed.

Before the Union made its additional requests, both parties had agreed on a Terms of Resumption (TOR) agreement and were prepared to sign said document presented by the Union, so that there was no victimisation of either party.

The document stipulated that during the consideration of the matter in dispute, there shall be no strike, stoppage of work whether of a partial or general nature, go-slow, boycott, picketing, retardation of production, or any other interference with the Ministry’s operations, by the Union.

In addition, the TOR stated that there shall not be any lockout or any other form of interference with the Ministry’s operations, by the Union, nor shall there be any lockout or any other form of interference by the Ministry.


Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Education Minister Priya Manickchand stated that the new requests by the Union were unreasonable and made it clear that the Government would not sign off on its requests and would also not negotiate under duress.

She contended that GTU was setting a “very bad precedent not only for the Guyana Government but for Governments across the Region”.

The GTU resumed strike action across the country Thursday last after talks between the Union and the Education Ministry reportedly broke down. Teachers had only on March 6 returned to the classroom, after striking for some four weeks.

GTU President Mark Lyte

The teachers, through their Union, had ended the strike and agreed to return to discussions with the Government regarding salary increases.

When the strike had ended, the Union and the Government were engaged in discussions on issues affecting teachers.

GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonald later told media operatives that the decision to resume the strike was because the Union believes nothing is forthcoming from the Government as it relates to collective bargaining.

The Government has already addressed over 20 issues affecting teachers, aimed at improving their working conditions and overall welfare.

In fact, at the time of the last strike, President Dr Irfaan Ali had reminded that he had already met with teachers across the country and outlined the Government’s plan to improve their livelihood.

Moreover, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had calculated that by the end of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s current term in office, graduate teachers would have benefited from salary increases amounting to nearly 50 per cent.

On April 19, the High Court ruled in favour of the GTU and stipulated that teachers’ salaries should not be cut following their participation in the strike.

GTU, GS, Coretta McDonald

The High Court had also ruled against the Government’s decision to discontinue the deduction of union dues from the salaries of teachers for the GTU.

This came on the heels of the Guyana Government’s refusal to negotiate for salary increases for the period December 2019 to 2023, but it instead was ready to do so for a multi-year agreement starting 2024.

Attorney General Nandlall has since said the Government will appeal the ruling at the level of the Guyana Court of Appeal, with the likelihood that the case will go to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Guyana’s final court of appeal.