-by Dennis Glasgow-
The Guyana Teacher Union is once again threatening strike action as it maintains a call for the Minister responsible for Labour, Keith Scott, to withdraw the appointment of a Chairman for the Arbitration panel examining the salary dispute.
GTU President Mark Lyte called a press conference this midday and expressed the union’s “lack of faith” in the arbitration process even before it has started.
The Labour Minister decided to appoint a Chairman for the Arbitration panel after the GTU and the Education Ministry failed to reach an agreement. However, the GTU and other trade unions have indicated that Scott could only nominate and not appoint.
Today, Mr. Lyte said “the union has rejected in no uncertain terms, the nominee or the proposed appointee by Minister Keith Scott. We are here this morning to let you know that we have rejected the individual who was appointed and we believe that a neutral person should be nominated for both sides to agree on the panel. I am of the view that there is some sinister plans afoot to thwart the process and not to allow fairness and equity to prevail.”
The union made it clear to the Ministry last week that if the appointment of Dr. Leyland Lucas as Chairman of the Arbitration panel was not rescinded, it will call teachers again out of the classrooms to protest.
“We will be calling our members out for the second time to be engaged in strike action. I know you are asking the way forward, we are saying that our members are ready and they are willing to continue the fight, to continue the struggle.”
The GTU President said he has taken note of the support he has picked up from the Guyana Trades Union Congress and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana.
He said with that support, he is convinced that any new strike action would be much bigger than the one back in September.
“I believe we are going to have a significantly larger amount of support for the fact that if persons were in doubt about what we were up against in the first instance, they have been following in a keener way, the events that have unfolded with the Minister with responsibility for labor and how he has acted and more persons are saying to us that believe that these persons don’t have any intentions to address the concerns of teachers. So we expect, more persons, more parents, we expect a lot of community support from the community in which the strike action will be taking place. We expect support from teachers from all across the regions”, Lyte said.
The Union today issued a call for its members and citizens as a whole to be prepared for strike action in the near future, until the union is satisfied with the appointment of someone neutral to Chair the arbitration process.
The Ministry of Education has warned that with the process now at arbitration, any move by teachers to begin strike action again, could lead to legal proceedings.