Strike out… …on teachers strike

Your Eyewitness is trying to get a handle on the threat for teachers across the country to strike next Monday. As one who’d been a teacher – while he was getting his bearings – he’s pretty sympathetic to the folks who’re in charge of preparing the minds of our little darlings. They’ll be inheriting the world we’re creating right now! From what he’s been reading, the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), through its General Secretary Coretta McDonald, has been demanding that the Government sit down with them to negotiate a “comprehensive package” that covers not just salary increases, but all sorts of benefits; such as “debunching” – which your Eyewitness still doesn’t understand!! Guess his teachers didn’t teach him THAT one!! All he can think about when he reads about “debunching” is some way to reverse folks getting their drawers in a knot!! “Bunched up”, get it??
For the last five years – even under the coalition Government, in which McDonald was an MP – teachers have been claiming that their calls have been consistently ignored. But every December, the governments announce an across-the-board salary increase for all Government employees – which includes teachers. Since it’s invariably retroactive to the beginning of the year, the teachers then happily collect their nice, fattened paychecks in time for Christmas!! And it would appear that the only unhappy “stakeholder” is the General Secretary!!
Last November, for instance, Pressie announced a massive package that set back his Government by $1.9 billion; it included a 6% salary increase plus a welter of allowances – including duty-free vehicles.
Now, since Coretta’s one of the most vehement political critics of the Government – with a social media platform where she spews vitriol daily against them – your Eyewitness does suspect that the Government might be convinced that the GTU’s GS is being more political than industrial in her demands!!
Last year, Pressie had announced he was going around the country, and was gonna be meeting teachers directly to find out if they were irked in any way. Now, your Eyewitness can’t be too sure about what they said about salaries – who wouldn’t like to get more money?! – but Pressie reported they preferred to receive allowances over salary increases. The former aren’t taxed, of course, and so teachers take home more. And speaking about allowances, do most folks know that teachers get clothing allowances??
It would appear that, consistent with its approach, the Government doesn’t just want to dole out money – but tie increases on teachers utilising the increased opportunities to earn degrees and move into higher pay bands! Bachelors would get an additional $10K monthly; Master’s $20K monthly, and PhDs $30K monthly!! Then there are arrangements for concessional mortgages for teachers to win homes!!
The strike’s gonna be a damp squib!!

…on Skeldon
The Opposition’s fond of invoking “Skeldon” as a kinda Scarlet Letter that VP Bharrat Jagdeo should wear on his forehead! Now, contrary to what’s popularly bandied about, the fella has never claimed that mistakes might not have been made – in what was gonna be the flagship factory of a new GuySuCo. But the question has always remained: whose are those mistakes?? Was Jagdeo single-handedly conceiving and delivering the factory??
Turns out that the same operators that Desmond Hoyte had brought in to “save” the industry – Booker Tate – were the ones who came up with the Skeldon Modernization Plan to bring down costs significantly!! Well, it has just been revealed that, after they were sacked following the bungled factory in 2008, they sued the Government “for services rendered”. And collected!!
The question implicitly raised by Finance Minister Singh is this: if they provided the “services”, shouldn’t they be responsible for its bungling?? So, why did the coalition Government drop the lawsuit filed by the PPP???

…blame game
The Opposition’s always complaining that only “PPP supporters” get cash grants. So, who’re the Laing Ave residents who just collected $250,000 for home repair materials – and another $100,000 for labour?? Oh yes…this is another “slave-catching” ploy!!