While government is seeking to mobilise funds to make a better pay offer to teachers, President David Granger today said that it would only be for 2018 as the administration is not negotiating a multi-year agreement.
In only his third press conference since taking office in 2015, Granger told reporters at the Ministry of the Presidency that the Ministry of Social Protection’s Department of Labour is in touch with the Ministry of Finance to see if additional funds can be found.
Currently, teachers are engaged in a strike while their union and the Ministry of Education are at an impasse on salary increases, de-bunching payments and some non-salary benefits.
“We had to do this in the case of Guyana Sugar Corporation workers in which all ministries volunteered to surrender funds which had been allocated for other purposes and this is what is being attempted at present,” Granger explained.
However, the president noted that while the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) is attempting to negotiate a multi-year agreement, his government is negotiating for 2018 alone. “We have not embarked on multi-year negotiations. It is desirable but right now we are preoccupied with day-to-day issues. It is desirable to have a multi-year agreement but this is not the time,” he indicated.
Granger also said having to resort to retired and trainee teachers in the event that the strike continues next week is “undesirable,” while, however, noting that it is the only way to ensure that the education goes on. He nonetheless expressed his hope that things will return to normal.
Granger also addressed other issues at the press conference.
**On the selection of the new Police Commissioner, Granger insisted that the process for choosing a Commissioner was followed that he made the appointment based on recommendations. He declined to specifically say what disqualified former acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine for the post.
**He could not say at this point whether he would accept, if nominated to be the coalition’s candidate for the 2020 general elections. “Who knows?” he said, when asked if he would be the candidate.
**On if he is pleased with the implementation of the recommendations for the many Commissions of Inquiry (COIs) conducted, the president said many have not been fully implemented but they are works in progress. He added that some require expenditure but assured that none of them has been abandoned, particularly the last one, which focused on the Lindo Creek massacre.
**The president said the security sector reform plan that was crafted by British security expert Lt Col (rtd) Russell Combe will be before Parliament after the current recess.
**According to the president, the Department of Energy will be taking the lead in determining the pace of development of Guyana’s oil fields, not ExxonMobil.
**On regular engagements with the press, he said it is not possible now because of his workload but he noted that he is trying to reduce his overseas travels.