A time to move on

Dear Editor,
When the GTU called out teachers on a strike 60 days ago they expressed that teachers were suffering and were worthy of a livable wage, they cited many instances in the prices being displayed in the supermarkets and elsewhere which in their estimation showed that they were on the poverty list. But are these statements accurate, that’s the question one is tempted to ask. Where are all other sector of workers in the economy, don’t they go to the same supermarkets and hardware stores? Aren’t they living in the same Guyana the GTU is talking about?
The answer is yes, nurses and firemen and all other public servants work, live, occupy, what have you, in the very same space as Guyana the teacher’s union is talking about. To be precise in my comparison, all these other sectors, work under difficult and exacting conditions, diverse from that of teachers. Then the question comes again, aren’t other public sector workers worthy of a “livable wage”? And the answer is yes, however, the other public sector workers are a disciplined lot, who are conscientiously awaiting their turn for an increase. Teachers are no special group from the other workers and as such, cannot be treated any different.
I put the question to an active member of the strike and his response was, “Them nurses and other workers are stupid, I am being paid and off the job.” Well, how smart teachers will turn out to be with that belief is left to be seen. In the meantime, the nation’s children are denied an education.
The reason why the other sectors did not associate themselves in that imbroglio, is that they would have rationally conclude that The GTU was fighting a political, instead of an industrial battle, far removed from anything positive or developmental for this country. In the first place, the union did not come to the bargaining table with clean hands, for more than 20 years they have been collecting union dues with no accountability to its members or the government.
The Labour Code mandates that unions have yearly audits, The GTU has none. This is preposterous, to say the least! Further, when parents and teachers turn up at schools they are met with locked gates and closed doors, by principals and school administrators who are anti-government and devotedly political. Such actions by political activists have to be addressed.
The Union is also demanding that the government pay upfront, a hefty 20% Ransom Money before they can end the strike, all of these actions speak clearly that the union is on a collision course with the government, never wanting to come to an amicable conclusion.
They would have conveniently forgotten that the government did pay out a 6.5% increase, which the teachers were a part of, never giving a negative comment until now. They have also blinded their eyes to the government’s reinstitution of the “Because we care” cash grant among other major educational developments such as the building of new schools, all towards the building up of the education sector.
So, who are the people that really care, and who are the staunchly political ones? Then it behooves us to conclude that it is not worth the effort for the government to be kept in limbo while our students suffer, we are at the juncture where the government must accept that it is time to move on.
This seemingly lawless takeover, by the union, must come to an end. For the nation to move on The Government needs to call the other unions such as the nurses, and collectively negotiate a bargaining agreement pay rise, for the 2024-2027 period, this will sober them up and we must move forward as a unified whole. So, while the union wallows in a political standoff stance, the rest of us need to move forward together, we cannot allow a union that is so vested in politics to hijack our country. Like a formidable team, Guyana moves forward.

Neil Adams