Ali calls on striking teachers to be patient

-restates pledge of incremental benefits

Teachers on strike protesting along the Port Mourant, Corentyne Public Road yesterday a stone’s throw away from where President Irfaan Ali was commissioning the first phase of the Guyana Technical Training College Inc. 
Teachers on strike protesting along the Port Mourant, Corentyne Public Road yesterday a stone’s throw away from where President Irfaan Ali was commissioning the first phase of the Guyana Technical Training College Inc. 

In his first public comment on the five-day-old teachers strike, President Irfaan Ali yesterday called for patience as he says he has promised incremental benefits but he was silent on why his government has not entered collective bargaining with the GTU over the last three and a half years.

As teachers took to the street in Port Mourant, Corentyne yesterday where the President was  commissioning the first phase of the Guyana Technical Training College Inc, he reminded that he had promised incremental benefits.

Ali said that last year he met with nurses, teachers and the public service where he had said that they have a duty to improve in totality the education and health care systems.

“That is why we are spending three times more per student than we have ever spent in the history of our country from 2019 to now, three times more on every child. Building an enabling environment, creating infrastructure, ensuring that our students are in the best environment for learning, training and development for our teachers, our nurses, our public servants and I said to them then that we are going to commence the process of fixing your welfare.”

According to Ali, presently it is believed by the citizenry that “all the resources is available now”, however, he said that it won’t be until 2027 the real growth in revenue coming in would be seen.

“And I said to our teachers, our nurses, our public servants, and I say to them now again that we are committed to giving you the best life possible. There is no need to politicize, it is for sure that the present situation with the teachers has been overtaken by political expediency”, he charged.

He said that he had explained that the government is going to work in an “incremental way” to ensure that they “have the best welfare package that you will have anywhere else in the region right here in Guyana but it will take time.”

He continued: “But I assured them, even today, that this government will ensure that their total package is the best welfare package they could have in this region as time progress.”

Ali said that teachers do not need to “down tools” as the government is committed to their wellbeing.

“I said then that we’re going to make some interventions and some measures and coming on to the end of this year we are going to have a total evaluation by category of workers so that we can have an intervention that is even more structured and bring more benefits, and that was maybe the third quarter last year, that it will be incremental, that is what we are committed to”, he stated.

According to the President, it must be understood that “all of us have to give a little” in the process of incremental development. “And it is not as if we were going to give five years from now, this very year I said, in the process of this year an evaluation would be made for all categories of our workers.”

Pawns

Furthermore, Ali urged the citizens of Guyana to not allow themselves to be used as “pawns politically.”

“I am saying to you as your President that it will get continuously better and get better in a short to medium term time, but you have to give a bit, you have to have patience, do not let yourselves be used as political pawns, we have tremendous love and respect for our public servants, our teachers, our nurses, our doctors, that is why we are investing in facilities to make their lives better, so I can’t be clearer than this today, you do not need to push at the People’s Progressive Party/Civic government to improve your welfare, we will do it, we will do it unconditionally.”

He thanked the “majority of teachers” who are in school ensuring students remain in a learning environment and encouraged students to ensure that they attend school, “And I urge our teachers to understand that you need not push against a hurricane, the wind is blowing with you and we are with you and we are committed to improving the welfare of every worker in our country.”

Teachers throughout the country have heeded the strike call.

Teachers yesterday protested in Port Mourant where the Guyana Teachers Union President Mark Lyte  told Stabroek News that the educators have signalled their intention to continue the strike as long as necessary.

According to Lyte, around 60% of teachers are on strike in total within Region Six.

Lyte said they received word that President Ali was in the area and so they decided to attempt to get his “attention”, however, Ali did not engage the teachers at the location.

Lyte said that he was extremely disappointed in the way in which the matter was being handled noting that the students are the ones who are being affected. “The education sector is being affected whether persons say it up front or not but to have over 6,000 of your teachers, which is like half of your teaching population in and out of school and then where teachers are attending school it is not business as usual.”

Lyte said that they believe the strike should have ended the first day with the ministry proposing a dialogue however this did not happen.

As such he said that they are willing to continue to strike as with an increase of payments everyone will benefit.