The Minister of Education is hoping to meet with the Guyana Teachers Union this week, even as the Union is preparing for nationwide strike action by teachers, set to begin at the end of the month.
In a statement released last evening through the Ministry of the Presidency, Education Minister, Nicolette Henry, said the GTU and the Ministry of Education had agreed to another meeting to deal with many of the unresolved issues in the negotiations. She said the negotiations were not over.
“I want to point out that some were agreed on in part, because it required much more than one area. For instance, on the issue related to duty free concessions, we agreed entirely on what was proposed; when it came to the issue of housing and the Revolving Fund we agreed also. However, [on] the issue of salary and debunching, we did not agree on at all [since] the government proposed a ball park figure. In the case of debunching, we are looking at $200 million to address debunching for the year 2018. The Union suggested that they believe that it should be retroactive and therefore they were not in agreement with looking at just 2018. In addition to that, the issue of salary also, for which we had allocated the sum of $700 million, they felt that should also be retroactive,” she explained.
According to Henry, The President David Granger led Government is pro working class and therefore teachers will get the increases, but the negotiations have to continue for a final determination.
She said the Government has already agreed to a number of the proposals put forward by the teachers union, while the union withdrew some and others were still up for final discussion.
The Teachers Union has been pressing for a 40% across the board increase as part of its proposal.
The Government has proposed a ball park figure.
“So we needed to address that issue and so we gave a figure on what is available in terms of financing to address the debunching issue. Once the debunching issue is addressed and teachers in this instance can be categorised and put into scales, then it will give you an opportunity to give what is allocated to salary increases in the respective categories… There is certainly nothing sinister or there is certainly no ulterior motive in awarding the ball park figure, because that did came up in the discussion. I just wanted to provide that clarity because I believe that teachers and the Guyanese people need to understand what was proposed and why it was proposed,” Minister Henry said.
But the GTU has said that figure would not represent anything close to the forty percent increase that it has proposed.
The Education Minister explained that the reason the Government’s side proposed a ball park figure had to do specifically with the process involved in debunching and salary increases.
She noted that the Union was asking for 40 percent increase across the board, which the Ministry felt would have further compounded the issue related to debunching.
The GTU has asked teachers to begin strike action on August 27, that’s just days before schools across the country open their doors on September 3.