GTU says Government wants teachers to return to work without first addressing grievances

GTU says Government wants teachers to return to work without first addressing grievances

Firing back at the Ministry of Education, hours after it was accused of making “unreasonable” demands that would likely lead to a breakdown in talks, the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) accused the Government of being the one that is “unreasonable”, with its position for teachers to return to work.

A 20% across-the-board payment to teachers is among the list of conditions put forward by the Union to bring an end to the ongoing strike to allow for conciliation. But Education Minister, Priya Manickchand has said the GTU is being “unreasonable” in its demand.

The Central Executive of the Union has now rejected the Minister’s contention. 

“Setting arbitrary timelines demanding we return to work without first addressing our genuine grievances through good-faith negotiations is unacceptable,” Union said.

The GTU said that the contention that the union breached a confidentiality agreement is completely false, explaining that as the representative of teachers, it has a responsibility to keep those teachers fully informed about negotiations that directly impact their livelihoods.  

“It is important to note that no confidentiality agreement or terms of reference were signed for a conciliation process. The conciliation process has not even started. The two days spent at the Ministry of Labour were to pave way for resumption of work so that conciliation can begin,” the Union explained.


Minister of Education – Priya Manickchand

The two sides met at the Labour Ministry on Monday and Tuesday in the presence of the Chief Labour Officer, but were unable to reach an agreement on the conditions for the resumption of work by striking teachers. The meeting is expected to continue next Monday. 

Minister Manickchand at a press conference on Wednesday said the Union’s posture is an indication that teachers are being used as “pawns in a much larger, politically directed plot,” but the Union that claim is unfounded.

“We are a labour union exercising our constitutional rights to demand better working conditions for teachers and to negotiate on behalf of our teachers – not a political party. These claims are unfounded attempts to undermine our cause,” it said. 

The GTU said while the Education Minister highlighted a number of ‘developments’ within the Education Sector, she fell short in acknowledging that the core issue, which resulted in industrial action, remains unresolved, and that is government’s refusal to negotiate an overdue collective bargaining agreement for 2019-2023.

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