Figueira urges Government to meet with GTU on salary increases and other outstanding issues

Figueira urges Government to meet with GTU on salary increases and other outstanding issues

High School teacher and Opposition Member of Parliament, Jermaine Figueira, made a passionate plea the Government today to meet with the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) to address the concerns of the nation’s teachers, who are in their third week of strike action.

As he addressed scores of teachers, students and parents in Linden this morning, MP Figueira, who has been a teacher for more than 20 years, said the country’s teachers have gone above and beyond in their service to the nation. 

He said it is their dedication that has caused the country to excel at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advancement Proficiency Examination (CAPE) every year and it is time, the Government heed to their calls. 

“It is most unfortunate that we are on our 12th day in this hot blazing sun… and our teachers have to be out here just to get a hearing. Since 2020, the union, our representative, would have put forward a proposal, a very reasonable proposal to the government, for us to have a better increase in our wages because of the services that we give, and we are saying, the government must do the honorable thing and engage with the Guyana Teachers’ Union,” MP Figueira said. 

The union is pushing for an across-the-board increase in salaries for teachers as part of a multi-year agreement. The union is proposing a 25% salary increase for 2019, and a 20% increase for the years 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

MP Figueira said the proposal is a reasonable one for a country, that is boasting of its economic wealth and performance.

“We are saying, when you compare our growth to the growth in other sister Caribbean states, Guyana far outweighs them but unfortunately for us, they are being paid better than us. It is embarrassing that we have so much wealth as a nation and in a small island like St Kitts, teachers are being paid better than us,” the Regional MP said. 

Meanwhile, teachers in the capital city of Georgetown kept up the momentum with their strike action, as they picketed a short distance away from the venue of the ongoing International Energy Conference.

There, the General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union, Coretta McDonald told reporters that since the strike started more than two weeks ago, the Government has made no attempt to meet with the union to resolve the issue. 

She said while the Government has dubbed the strike “illegal,” it is the Government that is acting in violation of local and international labour laws and conventions. 

“This government would have signed onto ILO conventions, and they go out there to the ILO conferences and they give glorious reports about how they are operating in Guyana, and how they are treating workers, and yet, here we are, 12 days, teachers are on the streets, all across Guyana, our pupils and our students are now joining us…,” she said. 

To date, the government has offered no indication that it is willing to meet with the union, even as thousands of children remain at home due to the absence of teachers in schools across the country. 

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