GTU has been very flexible

Dear Editor,

There are many teachers in Guyana who are teachers by day but have started to do the odd jobs on the weekend and at nights to make ends meet.  Though many of them love their day job, they are exhausted because they are too invested in working and not getting enough rest.  Thus quality is being compromised every day because they have the same ambitions as every Guyanese; to feed, clothe and house their family.

So I cannot understand why this PNCR regime led by President Granger is operating so anti-Burnham in 2018 and denying these teachers an opportunity to move closer to the good life so that they can adequately feed, clothe and house their families?

We are all products of teachers.  I personally have my favourite in Ms. Shirley Greene, who invested in me beyond the call of duty in those formative years to make me what I am today and there are many others who added to the process.  Therefore on this battle between the political elite in the PNCR and the teachers, this Granger regime will never find me and thousands of others in their corner. We will always champion the cause of the teachers.

For many of these teachers, there aren’t enough hours in the day because they are always doing something extra for their students in these trying circumstances.  To add to their activity portfolio, most of them have children of their own who also need attention. So their job is close to impossible but this fact clearly continues to evade Mr. Granger who seems to have his head in the clouds.  If the power brokers in the Granger regime were caring, they would have closed down this strike days ago by offering at a minimum 15% as a counter offer and moved on.

If an economic study was done between the teachers and the politicians on who has contributed more to Guyana per capita, we will certainly find out that the teachers are miles ahead of the politicians as net contributors to the economy.  Yet most of the politicians got a 50% increase in their salaries, while the teachers cannot even get double digits.  This is unacceptable.

You really have to have a hard-head and be very mentally obtuse to not understand what double digits mean because that is all that the GTU has been demanding over the last 7 days.  The arithmetic studies that I have been exposed to clearly highlight the fact that 40% is not the only double-digit numeral on the number scale.  Therefore I find it most insincere of this Granger regime to pretend that the GTU is being inflexible because that statement is furthest from the truth.  GTU has even gone so far as to express that they are even willing to accept “teens”.  But it seems the Cabinet of Mr. Granger is suffering from a lack of adequate comprehension skills or there is a strong dose of dishonesty in the Cabinet Room. GTU has been anything but unyielding and very flexible on the teachers’ pay issue.  They have asked for 2016 – double digits, 2017 – 5%, 2017 – 5% and 2018 – 5%.  That is a very reasonable position.

Today most teachers pay for their own university education and ongoing professional training, the majority of them buy supplies for their students out of their own pockets and now the majority of them have to find an addition G$1,800 a month in transportation cost to cover the increased bus fare for their family. Examples of such financial stress and strain can be found in every region of Guyana as more and more quality teachers continue to walk away from the system by migrating to more favourable environments in the Caribbean and further afield where teachers are better respected.

Yet the Minister of Education has the audacity to try to distort the facts at her Monday Press Conference and had undertaken this hare-brain scheme of trying to replace the trained teachers with scab labour in the form of under-trained students from CPCE who have not completed their training?  Does she understand the long-term damage she is dong to the students of Guyana and by extension the future functional literacy of the nation?

I encourage the GTU to stay on the streets until greater respect is paid to them because this is the good battle; the righteous battle; the battle for a living wage.  Solidarity forever!

Yours faithfully,

Sasenarine Singh

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