GTUC calls for full support for teachers in their wage struggle

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) today called for national support for teachers in their battle for better wages. The teachers are set to go on strike tomorrow.

A statement from the TUC follows:

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) calls on the people of Guyana, civil society and the business community to empathise with the teachers in this their moment of need as they proceed on strike action. The struggle of the teachers for a living wage and the importance of sustaining themselves to perform require having their needs met and these can only be addressed at the negotiation table. Teachers are seeking an agreement with the employer, the Government of Guyana, after the last four-year Agreement signed with the PPP/C Government expired in 2015.

Teachers agitating for better wages recently (SN file photo)

In 2016 the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) would have pursued strike action after the APNU+AFC Government failed to constructively engage to realise an Agreement. Strike action was averted when Minister of State Joe Harmon gave the Union the assurance Government will address the teachers’ concerns. In 2017, after a failed process to arrive at an agreement, the Union once again said its members will proceed on strike action to bring about resolution. The action was averted because of President David Granger’s intervention where he established a Task Force to address the Union’s proposals. That Task Force completed its work earlier this year and submitted its Report to the Government which was deliberated at Cabinet. As of to date a stalemate (i.e. standoff) exists.

The Union’s concerns are the non-response by the Government to the Task Force’s Report, the dilatory approaches in realising recommendations in the Report, and the threat by Government to employ substitutes should teachers proceed on strike rather than address a grievance lingering for the past three years. These concerns are today resulting in strike action consistent with the Collective Labour Agreement and Article 147 (2) of the Guyana Constitution.  

It appears there is no genuine effort to bring relief to the teachers. The job of a teacher is not easy, and it is important to ensure there is learning in an environment where our children benefit. Whereas many have migrated to other societies where they consider their services are more valued and others have existed to other professions, those who remain under the present condition are due to the love for the profession and commitment to moulding the minds of our children.

Teachers are the backbone of a country’s development. Their role is multifaceted and not confined to solely teaching and marking papers. Teachers also act as parent, mentor, custodian, counselor, provider (meals, school supplies, etc.) and a shoulder to cry on even as they have to meet their families’ psychosocial and economic needs.

GTUC calls on society to give full support to the teachers and their union- moral, spiritual or otherwise, cash or kind, as they navigate this period of their lives. A nation’s well-being is dependent on every generation shouldering its responsibility to nurture future generations in ensuring development and continuity of society and this is the role of the teacher. Teachers produce the artisans, nurses, police, doctors, teachers, journalists, public servants, private workers, businessmen/women etc. of tomorrow; the ministers of government and the future president are produced by the teachers.    

What is a child’s future without a teacher?  While the current impasse may affect children in the public schools and some may not want to identify because the problems in the public schools don’t concern them or impact directly on their children, they are urged to remember the teachers from the public-school system mainly provide the teaching needs for and in the private school system.

Failure to arrive at resolution could result in our children suffering. We owe it to our children to enjoy a good environment of education. Where the teachers are happy they will be more productive. It is our nation’s children that are at risk when the education system is adversely affected. When our children suffer we suffer, the community suffer, and the nation suffers. 

GTUC calls on the Government to come to the bargaining table in good faith and address the teachers’ grievance. Three years is a long time.


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