Collective bargaining is the only way

Dear Editor,
The GTU must stop its politicking, come down from its high horse of false pride, and return to the bargaining table; it’s the only way. As I’ve stated in previous communications, being belligerent in a standoff with the Government will not solve anything; instead, it will hurt rather than help the teachers’ cause. The point is that other sectors of workers are watching, patiently awaiting their due increases, so let not the GTU believe they would see a pay rise that excludes other workers in Guyana.
A pay rise for teachers means a pay raise for every other sector. The teachers are not a special and separate group. The big difference is that other workers, such as nurses, would see no deductions from their salaries because they refused to allow themselves to be dragged into an illegal political strike.
This is the major issue Lyte and his union have to face up to. And I believe the substance of what I am saying will come sooner rather than later. That is: at the local appellate court, they would not run the risk of being embarrassed yet again, as in previous rulings that had to be overturned by the apex court. This time around they will get it right.
With the recent makeup of right-thinking justices in the local appeal court, I think they would come up with the erudite decision in overturning Justice Kissoon’s ruling, while at the same time directing the union back to the negotiating table to thrash out their differences.
Now, here is where the rubber hits the road. Getting back to the negotiating table means a cessation of the strike and the resumption of talks in an atmosphere of amicability, and not the confrontational mode that obtains. So, while Lyte is adopting that obstinate posture, he has certain major developments to consider:

1. The Union will have to pay the teachers for the days spent off the job. There is no way the Government is going to pay them. That payment must come from union dues they have been collecting for years, with no accountability to the teachers.

2. The Union risks losing membership and dues, because if I were a teacher, I would not want to be in a union that used me as a pawn for cheap political mileage. I would want to be a responsible teacher going about my business teaching the nation’s kids, and not be embroiled in a political standoff. Leave the politics for the politicians, and keep the education of our children in focus, and nothing else.

3. Demanding that the same Government you are maligning be a tax collector for the union will not stand. From henceforth, that would be the responsibility of the Union. The GTU would have to collect its dues.

But even at this late hour, I believe a sensible union would have gone swiftly back to the bargaining table to negotiate a settlement, whatever the issues. There is no way a responsible PPP/C Government would shirk from rational reasoned bargaining.
So, in closing, the Union needs to swallow its false pride and get down to solving this matter.

Neil Adams