The Guyana Teachers Union has threatened a full strike if the Minister of Education continues to not consult with the union on various issues related to the functioning of schools in the pandemic including issues about financing and salaries.
This afternoon, some executive and other members of the GTU protested outside the Education Ministers office calling on the Ministry to desist from its posture of ignoring the Teacher’s union.
GTU President Mark Lyte said the union is becoming increasingly agitated with the way the Education Ministry has been treating the nation’s teachers during the pandemic while ignoring the union.
“This is just the beginning of a process, and as you know they are several processes and as you know they are several things that a Union could do to get the attention of the employer, a strike is never ruled out but this is just one of the actions that we have initiated to kick start the process with a view that we will not have to end up in a strike situation….The necessary intervention can be taken swiftly so that the union would not resort to a strike as we did in 2018, and we saw how crippling that was to the system and we would not want to go down but if we have to, we will, Lyte told reporters.
The union head said on various matters related to teachers and the education system, the union has found itself learning of the issues through the media and that cannot continue.
“We are reading a lot of things from online via social media. This is the teacher’s representative body. No consultation as to the proposed reopening of school dates, as well as what protocols will be put in place to ensure that our teachers are safe. We also recognized that headteachers are being moved to selective senior secondary schools in Georgetown, with no consultation. We are not invited to meetings any longer to engage the Ministry”, Lyte complained.
According to the GTU, the Ministry of Education while ignoring the union and refusing to consult with the union has been reaching out to teachers directly to discuss various issues related to the education system.
He said the Ministry is being disrespectful to the union and appears to be undermining its work.
GTU General Secretary and Opposition Member of Parliament Coretta McDonald said she is not surprised by some of the moves by the Education Ministry since it appears that it wants to begin sewing discord between the teachers and their representatives.
“I am not surprised at all, because the thing now the new drink on the market right now is Coretta McDonald, Member of Parliament, APNU+AFC activist and like my placard is saying let’s leave the politics out. When I stand for teachers, when I make my stand for teachers and yes technically you say that I can’t divide myself but when I sit as General Secretary in talking education and I’m talking teacher’s welfare, you cannot want to blame me or throw stones or condemn me. We have to understand that and so that is lacking in this whole business”, she said.
The General Secretary said many teachers are still to receive the benefits that were agreed to under the previous government.
The union said it is now ready to begin discussions about salary increases for the teachers. (Joseph Allen)