Scores of teachers turned up at the Region Five office yesterday afternoon in Fort Wellington, West Berbice, to protest after they were told that the Regional Executive Officer (REO) would be withholding pay cheques from teachers who were traveling abroad.
According to the reports reaching Stabroek News, some 200-plus teachers turned up around 3 pm at the RDC’s office where they protested and requested the presence of the REO, Ovid Morrison, for him to give an explanation as to why he had made a decision to withhold the pay of those travelling abroad.
“He said a lot of teachers are not coming back but those teachers don’t earn a lot of money as it is. If the teacher has to go on vacation he is withholding an entire month’s pay,” a source who was on the picket line related to Stabroek News last night.
“The teachers turned out in (their) numbers. They started around 3 pm and they were calling him out and he refused to come outside and stayed in,” the source related.
According to a video that was seen by Stabroek News, the hundreds of teachers rallied in the RDC’s compound and started singing, calling for Morrison to come out of his office and engage them. They were armed with their placards and kept up the chants for about an hour.
However, while Morrison refused to come out of his office, Stabroek News was told that he made a request that a team visit his office to talk. This request was denied by the crowd of teachers.
“The teachers didn’t want that. They wanted him to come down and they said they wouldn’t stop until he rescinds the decision to withhold their salaries,” the source said.
RDC Chairman, Vickchand Ramphal was contacted yesterday by Stabroek News and questioned whether he was aware of Morrison’s actions. He said he wasn’t.
“That is not a normal occurrence and there are much other important issues to be dealt with at the Regional level, which I think the REO should look into. The REO did this off of his own and it was not brought before the council,” Ramphal said, while pointing out that he is against the REO’s actions to withhold the teacher’s salaries.
In a post on his Facebook page, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall said yesterday that last Tuesday on his television programme on NTN Chanel 26, Berbice, he highlighted the “unlawful and vindictive actions of the Regional Executive Officer of Region No. 5, who arrogates unto himself the power of withholding 2 months salaries of the Nurses and Teachers working in the Region if they decide to take their annual leave.
“This REO has no such powers of these workers and his actions amount to a gross violation of their rights and a callous abuse of power on his part.”