The President of the Guyana Teacher’s Union, Mark Lyte, today indicated that his union will be unable to meet with the Ministry of Education for the conciliation talks being hosted by the Labour Department as the two sides still cannot agree on salary increases for teachers.
Mr. Lyte said said the GTU has its previously scheduled General Council meeting taking place on Tuesday and that meeting which was planned months ago and brings together teachers from across the country, cannot be postponed at this stage.
“General Council meets once per term, thats once every three months and so it is not something we can push back because we have a lot of our General Council reps travelling from the interior for tomorrow’s meeting and that meeting goes late into the evening”.
He said the union intends to ask for a reschedule of the meeting for later this week, possibly on Friday.
Questioned by News Source about whether the Teacher’s Union is playing hard ball to ensure the strike action continues into next week when schools will reopen their doors, the GTU President said “I think the GTU is making the kind of statement to say that our position is that we are given short notices for meetings and persons are not enquiring whether we have scheduled on those dates”.
Once the process moves to conciliation and possible arbitration, the GTU might have to put a hold on the strike action since both sides might not want to be negotiating under a climate of duress.
The GTU strike officially started today, with teachers staying away from pre-commencement activities at the schools across the country. In many parts of the country, teachers hosted picketing exercises and marches.
In Georgetown, just about 100 teachers picketed at the President’s office.
The Teachers Union is adamant that the Government needs to take the advice of its own task force and give the teachers the recommended 40% for this year and 5% for the other years.
Mr. Lyte said the Union would be willing to accept an “proper” offer from the Government that would be reasonable. He called on the Government to make a better offer