The Guyana Teacher’s Union has indicated that it will attend a third attempt to start conciliation talks on the salaries dispute for teachers, but at that Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, the union will also indicate its distrust in the Department of Labour as host of the conciliation process.
Appearing on 94.1 FM’s Jumpstart Morning Show, GTU President, Mark Lyte explained this morning that the union is ready for the process to move pass conciliation and head straight to arbitration.
“I think that the Ministry of Labour would have disqualified itself from the process of conciliation, they have acted in a way that would disqualify them, because the Ministry of Labour was part of the two meetings and so they would be having a prejudicial position, as you would know, if you were a part of and spoke on the matter on the meeting of the 9th August and the meeting on the 16th August, then how can we trust you to be part of a conciliation process”, Lyte questioned.
The GTU President said since the union is unable to place any trust in the Labour Department to impartially handle the conciliation process, the next step would have to be arbitration and the Teacher’s Union is prepared and ready for that.
“We have to now agree on the way forward, The next option will be for arbitration and the union is willing to move forward on that since we cannot trust the Ministry of Labour since they have been part of the process all of the time. How can we trust you now to be the mediator on that. There is a conflict of interest here”, the GTU President stated.
Mr. Lyte said the Union would want an arbitration panel and not a single arbitrator.
“When it goes to arbitration, it is no longer in the hands of the union or the government…its up to the arbitrator”, the union boss noted.
He also revealed that the public needs to understand that the 40% increase that teachers have been talking about is a direct recommendation of a task force that was put together by the President.
The task force recommended that teachers be paid a 40% increase on their 2015 salaries for 2016 and 5% increases for the remaining four years of the multi year deal.
Mr. Lyte said the union was prepared to accept that deal and if the Government could not have afforded the 40%, it was ready and willing to negotiate for something lower but still acceptable.
Instead, the Union President said, the Government presented that $700 million figure to cover salary increases. He claims that if that money is to be spread out over a five year period to the more than 10,000 teachers, they would be receiving under $1000 as an increase on their salaries.
News Source understands that the Government wanted the figure to cover 2018 and move forward from there, ignoring the previous years.
The GTU President said the union still has faith moving forward, but will continue pressing for better salaries and working conditions.
He said the Guyana Teachers Union has never been confrontational and it remains prepared to work with the Government to find a solution to the impasse, adding that the President needs to keep his word to the nation, that he wants teachers to become some of the better paid public servants because of the focus on education.