GTU ready to engage MoE to end impasse, calls on Labour Ministry to act as mediator

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Some teachers on the protest line

After over one week since it called a countrywide strike for higher salaries and better working conditions, the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) says it remains ready to meet with the Education Ministry to facilitate dialogue and ultimately end the current impasse.

Moreover, the GTU is calling for the Labour Ministry to act as mediator.

President of the GTU, Mark Lyte during an address on Tuesday contended, however, that the union is not interested in any policy talk with the Education Ministry, but instead, it must address the burning issue of wage increases.

Since last week, protest actions by teachers across the country reflect that they are not pleased with the 6.5 per cent increase for public servants.

“We don’t want to talk about policies. We want to talk about finance. Let the agency or the group of people that the President entrusted to do financial talks, let them meet with us.”

“We are ready right now. If they call us right now, we are going to get our team ready in five minutes to go where they need us to be so that we can broker talks on the way forward,” Lyte said.

As such, the GTU President called on the Labour Ministry to step up and act as the mediator in these talks.

“What is the function of a Ministry of Labour? At all times, to act as a mediator…Bring the two sides together and engage to ensure that there is some level of normalcy…Let the plan be known. When will the teachers be getting an increase? How much will they be getting? Let us come to the table and amicably resolve this matter.”

A letter dated February 9 was dispatched to the Permanent Secretary of the Education Ministry, Shannielle Hoosein-Outar indicating that the GTU was ready to commence discussions to return to normalcy. The Terms of Reference (TOR) were proposed, among other things, calling for there to be no victimisation, no loss of seniority or years of service, and no loss of pay for teachers.

This week, the Ministries of Education and Local Government and Regional Development issued a statement informing that teachers who were absent from work last week, without the necessary authorisation, will not be paid for the period.

It has been over one week since the protest and strike actions were taken. The government has come out since then to share facts, highlighting that salaries for graduate teachers increased by some 35 per cent since 2020 and will reach almost 50 percent by 2025.

Urging teachers to be fair and put the interest of the students at heart, President Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday appealed to teachers to remember the good the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has made for them, and the commitments it has made to do even more. He had positioned that Guyana’s development is an incremental one and as such, public servants must be patient.