The Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) says it is finding it difficult to trust the Granger administration on a pay deal since its actions have shown that they take workers for granted.
“From the track record it’s hard to say we can trust them now. The Union has cooperated in every respect with the government on this matter and received no assurance that things will be set right soon,” GTU President Mark Lyte told Stabroek News on Tuesday.
In fact the union has not received any communication since President David Granger’s May Day statement that the multi-year package is being considered by Minister of Finance Winston Jordan.
On Tuesday, members of the union’s South Georgetown Branch took to the streets in front of the union’s headquarters to express their dissatisfaction with this silence.
“They argued that we are allowing the government to do what they are doing today so they came down to say they will force our hands and have us act,” General Secretary Coretta McDonald related.
She stressed that the executive is just as frustrated as the members and is ready to act on the mandate those members provide.
“Why is there a delay, why is there an absence of information. This lack of information, lack of any communication show they take workers from granted,” she noted.
McDonald has said that she expects that the mandate will come out of the General Council meeting set for August 28 but Lyte is sure it can come sooner.
“It would take the voice of several branches across Guyana not just one to have us take to the street but that can be mustered in a short while,” he stressed alluding to the level of frustration teachers have communicated to him.
Regional Vice President for Demerara, Collis Nicholson also said that the teachers he represents are ready to take any necessary action.
“They are frustrated about the slothful movement of the government and the rise in cost of living,” he told Stabroek News adding they are not satisfied about the situation with the task force which had been set up on the question of pay and other benefits because for them it was a political trick.
The task force referenced was set up late last year after negotiations between the union and government broke down.
The negotiations on the 2015 agreement began in January, 2016 but broke down last year after Minister of Education Nicolette Henry told the union that government could only offer wage increases in keeping with those offered to public servants. In response to Henry’s statement, the GTU delegation walked out of the meeting and called on teachers to remain at home for two days.
The strike action was, however, put on hold after Granger asked to meet the union and assured that the collective bargaining process would be pursued.
The union delegation was later assured by Granger that Henry was premature in her declaration. It was also told that despite the ministry being in receipt of the union’s proposal since 2015, the only issue taken to Cabinet in relation to teachers was a request to have the de-bunching payments agreed to in 2006 paid out. This request was taken by former Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine.
The task force, which comprised representatives of the Ministries of Education, Finance, Communities, Public Service and the Presidency as well as representatives of the union, completed its work and submitted its report to Henry on April 6th, 2018.
Henry has since submitted the report to Cabinet but there has been no word on a decision as yet. On May 1, President Granger told reporters that Jordan is considering the report and will report to Cabinet afterward. This is still to occur.