President calls on striking teachers to be patient with their demands

President calls on striking teachers to be patient with their demands

As teachers across the country prepare for a second week of strike action, beginning from next Monday, President Irfaan Ali is calling on the teachers to be patient, promising that his Government will look into their welfare.

While speaking at an event in Berbice on Friday afternoon, the President said the current strike action is political, and there is no need for the matter to be politicised.

“Everybody believes that all our resources are available now. In 2027, that is when the real revenue growth would be seen in the country. And I have said to our teachers, nurses, and public servants that we are committed to giving them the best life possible. There is no need to politicise. Surely, the present situation with the teachers has been overtaken by political expediency,” he said.

It has been over three years since the Guyana Teachers’ Union submitted its multi-year proposal to the Government for salary increases and non-salary benefits for the nation’s educators.

Since the submission of that proposal in 2020, there has been no negotiation taking place. Instead, the Government has moved to address some of the issues raised without meeting with the union, and has chosen instead to engage a select group of senior teachers from selected schools.

The GTU has accused the Government of ignoring the plight of teachers and the cost of living crisis that they face, even as billions are being poured into the education sector, mostly covering infrastructural works.

Teachers started their strike action on Monday and it has been growing since then, with thousands of teachers staying away from the classroom, even as the Government has opted for a public relations blitz to attack their union and some of its leaders.

President Ali still believes the teachers should be patient, as he works to ensure the welfare of all public servants will be addressed.

He said “this government will ensure that the total package is the best welfare package they can have in the region. We are committed to this, but you have to have patience. Coming on to the end of this year, we are going to have a total evaluation by category of workers, so that we can have an intervention that is even more structured and that will bring more benefits. But, all of us have to give a little in this process of incremental development. In the process of this year, an evaluation will be made for all categories of our workers”.

The Government has called the strike action by teachers “illegal”, and has threatened to deduct money from the salaries of those teachers who continue to strike. The Labour Ministry has contended that the two sides are still involved in talks, but the Labour Ministry only found its voice after the strike action began, noting that previous letters to the Ministry seeking its intervention were ignored.

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