Disconcerting statement on report of high level task force on teachers wages

Dear Editor,

For those who have had substantial experience on either side of the Industrial Relations platform it continues to be puzzling to observe the confusion of views being expressed, again by both sides, on what process is now applicable in the brouhaha between the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers’ Union

That either party is sufficiently informed about the relevant legislation and the provisions of normal Collective Agreements, is barely evident, and in some instances mostly tentative. It is as if no one has taken recourse to the legal advice that is abundantly available, which would account for opinions being offered on what in fact should be a consistent process.

That the whole conversation between the employer and the employee association has been mishandled goes without saying. There is this disturbing nuance of the former talking to, rather than with the latter, albeit a familiar communication lapse.

What is also disconcerting is the revelation reported in Stabroek News of September 1, 2018 that “the High Level Task Force… set up last year to resolve the impasse… over wages and non-salary benefits was found to be deficient by Cabinet”.

The operative timing of this evaluation is not indicated, but presumably it was completed ‘last year’! Even so one is left to wonder why there was no earlier announcement of this profound disenchantment.

Careful reading of the paragraph immediately following leaves one to wonder if it was correctly quoted:

“The existing report should not be regarded as a sound basis for proceeding because critical information was not supplied to the committee”.

Would it be fair to enquire whether the “deficient” report is still regarded as “existing”, and if so why were the authors not required to supply the ‘critical information’ alluded to, and to which ‘committee’?

The content of the foregoing would appear to be overweighted by personal views related to authority rather than logic based on the regular observance of industrial relations rules and practice. (How would we behave if on the other foot we were to witness the same scenario?)

The whole situation cries out for the right example to be set, by proceeding to normal (not high level) arbitration.

Yours faithfully,

E.B. John

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