APNU and AFC lash out at Government over threats to cut salaries of striking teachers

APNU and AFC lash out at Government over threats to cut salaries of striking teachers

The Opposition, APNU and AFC, have stated that they stand firmly behind the country’s teachers who are currently on strike, seeking government’s intervention to honor a multi-year agreement submitted by the Guyana Teachers Union.

In a statement, the APNU said the demands of the teachers are legitimate, noting that it fully understands the challenges that teachers face.

“Rest assured, we are committed to reversing all punitive measures instituted by the PPP/C and to ensuring that the rights and welfare of teachers are upheld and improved. We recognize the importance of collective bargaining and will respect the legitimate representation of teachers through the Guyana Teachers’ Union. It is unacceptable that the Ministry of Education has neglected the union’s concerns and attempts to undermine the duly elected representatives of teachers,” the Opposition said in a statement today. 

The Government has said that the ongoing teachers strike is unjustified and illegal and has noted that almost 30 measures have been put in place over the last three years to improve teacher’s standard of living. 

But teachers continue to complain about poor pay and bad working conditions.  

The Opposition is contending that the Government is trampling on the rights of teachers. 

“We are paying close attention to the ongoing industrial action taken by Guyana’s teachers. We understand their fight for betterment through a multi-year agreement with the Ministry of Education. The behaviour of Ministers Manickchand and Hamilton is anti-union and anti-working class. The PPP continues to disregard and trample on the human rights of teachers, students, parents, and other citizens,” the Opposition posited. 

The Opposition party noted that with General Elections on the horizon, teachers must not forget their current challenges.

With the Government threatening to cut the salaries of teachers who are on strike, since it sees the strike as illegal, the Alliance for Change said such a move by the government would vindictive.

“The AFC is alarmed at government’s failure to uphold the right to legitimate protest, the individual’s right to strike and has concluded these actions all signal the Death of Democracy in PPP Guyana.  The government is not interested Collective Bargaining and in finding a meaningful solution to the concern raised by teachers through their union over the last four years,” the AFC said in a statement.

The AFC said it also notes the “duplicity of this Government” that has labelled the protest as “political” because the General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers’ Union is a Member of Parliament on the opposition side.  

The AFC reminded that the current and former Presidents of GAWU were Members of Parliament for the governing PPP, and whenever sugar workers went on strike, they were never accused of being political.

The AFC said The Guyana Sugar Worker Union (GAWU) has staged the most strikes in Guyana over the last 40 years, at least 10 strikes per year and that union was never threatened with having their union dues withheld and workers not being paid.

The Alliance For Change maintains that all workers deserve representation and teachers must earn livable wage which Guyana can afford to pay them from the $ 1.6 billion Guyana dollars per day that the country earns through increased oil production.

In 2018, when the APNU+AFC was in Government, teachers were also forced to go on strike for improved wages and salaries. That multi year agreement expired at the end of 2019, forcing the union to submit a new agreement in 2020.

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