GTU president suspended over victimisation of teacher

President of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) Colin Bynoe has been suspended for two weeks by the union’s executive council for exhibiting inappropriate behaviour.

Stabroek News was told that the suspension, which became effective last Thursday, became necessary after Bynoe, despite being given several chances, refused to apologise after being reprimanded for his treatment of the deputy at his school.

Attempts were made to speak with Bynoe on the matter yesterday around 2.30 pm but he said that he was driving and could not speak at the time. He further said that he would later be in a meeting and would not

Colin Bynoe
Colin Bynoe

be out until 5.30 pm. Efforts to contact him at this time were fruitless.

GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonald and former president Colwyn King both confirmed the suspension. The need for the suspension reportedly stemmed from an incident involving Bynoe, who is the Headmaster of the Port Mourant Secondary School, and his deputy. King said the deputy was contesting a position for which Bynoe does not favour him. He also said that the man was posting flyers around the school in support of his and others’ bids to attain certain positions when he was confronted by Bynoe. The president reportedly also disapproves of the persons his deputy was supporting through the posting of the flyers.

The confrontation led to a verbal altercation and Bynoe allegedly reported the teacher to the Ministry of Education to be disciplined. The deputy then called the union to find out why he was being targeted by the man responsible for defending him.

“Teachers pay dues to be represented and not crucified,” King said. He explained that as the deputy of the school, the teacher had all rights to either authorise the posting of posters or post them himself. Therefore, he continued, there was no basis for Bynoe to try to discipline his deputy. King and McDonald expressed surprise that the union’s president would treat his deputy in that matter, especially since the man played a critical role in getting him (Bynoe) elected to the union’s presidency.

King went on to say that the union convened an Executive Council meeting to solicit an explanation from Bynoe. The meeting was held about a month ago, and King said that the president refused to give an explanation when asked to clarify the matter. The meeting ended, he said, with Bynoe consistently refusing to explain what led to the confrontation between him and his deputy.

Another such meeting was held last Wednesday, King said, as the union was looking to settle the matter. Again, Bynoe was asked to explain himself, but said that he had nothing to say. The council then moved a motion for Bynoe to speak in an effort to compel him to explain the situation. He reportedly ignored the motion, however, prompting another motion to be moved. This one was ignored as well.

It was eventually decided that Bynoe would be spoken with in private, and two of the union’s trustees and the Regional Vice President of Berbice were given the task. King said they attempted to convince Bynoe to apologise, so that the matter could be forgotten.

After more than an hour of discussions, King said, Bynoe returned to the meeting and offered a statement which was anything but an apology. As a result, he said, a motion was moved to suspend Bynoe.

King revealed that the initial proposal was to suspend Bynoe for two months, but he said that the union eventually decided that two weeks was sufficient. King and McDonald said the intention of the union was clearly not to suspend Bynoe. At the same time, King noted, “no one is bigger than the organisation, the law is the law and there is no way to go around it.” McDonald said “no one is above the laws of the GTU, even if you are the president and you mess up you face the consequences.”

Bynoe, who is slated to make a presentation on the union’s ups and downs over last two years at its upcoming 4th Biennial Conference, is also required to submit his speech to the union for vetting before he makes the presentation. Colin Bynoe was elected president of the GTU in 2010. He is currently in his second term as president.

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