The protest by teachers against the Government’s vaccination policy continued this morning outside the Ministry of Education.
Teachers from around Georgetown were supported by teachers from Linden and Berbice who traveled to the city to join the demonstrations.
The Government’s only statement since the three-day strike action was called two days ago was that the GTU was uncaring to call the strike at this time and those striking teachers will not be paid for their absent days.
The teachers who gathered today did not appear too bothered by the Government’s pronouncements on their decision to strike. Instead, they continued to voice their displeasure with the vaccination policy which has resulted in scores of teachers being locked out of their schools because of their failure to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result.
General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers Union, Coretta McDonald said the Ministry of Education does not appear to care too much about the concerns of the protesting teachers.
She reiterated that teachers must not be bullied into taking the vaccines.
“I think the Ministry of Education, and by large the Government should take stock of themselves and allow good sense to prevail. Engaged the teacher’s representative and let’s move this process forward. Let’s deal with our teachers and honour their obligations” Ms. McDonald said.
The GTU said the current COVID-19 situation in the country cannot be ignored as there are rising cases in every region and the government forges ahead with the reopening of schools for face-to-face learning.
She said even the vaccinated teachers are now at risk.
“Look at what is happening in our health system, every day we see 5,6, 7,8,9 persons are dying from COVID-19. We are seeing our hospitals full to capacity and yet this very Government doesn’t see it fit to listen to the needs and the cries of teachers but I think they have gotten accustomed to being bullies and being dictators and they are still thinking in 2021 that they can still be doing what they did 23 years ago” McDonald, who is also an Opposition Member of Parliament stated.
She has also rejected the Government’s position that the protests and strikes are being driven by politics.
“This has nothing to do with politics and I must remind you that in 2018, Bharrat Jagdeo in 2018 he lambasted the APNU+AFC Coalition in 2018, and said they weren’t listening to the teachers. I’m wondering what is happening now. In 2018 Priya had several posts on Facebook supporting the GTU when we took industrial action but in 2021 you are hearing the action of the GTU is political but in 2018 it wasn’t?”, McDonald questioned.
The Education Ministry has said that despite the strike action and based on the rotational system currently in the primary and nursery schools, turnout by teachers for classes has been good.