Teachers’ strike: MoE still mulling final mediation terms

– to present to Labour Ministry

Today marks nine days since Chief Labour Officer Dhaneshwar Deonarine last facilitated talks for the third time between officials from the Education Ministry and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU).
During the meeting held on June 10, both parties were once again unable to come to a mutual agreement on the terms of the resumption of the nationwide teacher’s strike.

Labour Minister,
Joseph Hamilton

However, given that the Education Ministry and GTU both signalled interest in ending the ongoing strike, it was agreed that the Ministry on behalf of the Government would map out the way forward and later communicate the same to the Labour Ministry to mediate a final meeting.
This could result in teachers returning to classrooms sooner.
However, during an interview with the Guyana Times, Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton disclosed that his ministry has not engaged the Education Ministry since the last meeting (June 10).
“We have no new information other than the meeting ending with the Ministry of Education saying that they will return back or they will speak to the GTU about their proposal” Minister Hamilton said.
On the other hand, General Secretary of the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU) Coretta McDonald in an invited comment stated that the union is still prepared to pursue national arbitration if talks fail for a third time.
On this point, she noted that the nationwide teacher’s strike continues.
“Well, we can only say that the Ministry of Education and by extension, the government, are not interested in the education of our children. They are not interested in the welfare of our teachers. And the ordinary people in this country simply don’t mean anything to this government because of the way they’re operating,” she contended.
Efforts to contact ministry officials have proved futile.
Proposed 20 per cent for teachers

Executive members of the GTU at the last meeting

On day two of conciliation talks held in May between the Education Ministry and the GTU, a document citing a demand for an interim 20 per cent across-the-board salary payment for teachers was presented to the Chief Labour Officer by representatives of the GTU.
According to reports, the Union requested that the increase be paid to teachers before any conciliation regarding the timeframe for the payment period for salary increases.
The demand made by the GTU is aside from monies to be paid to teachers when a payment period for the multi-year agreement is decided upon.
Additionally, the union requested that Labor Minister Joseph Hamilton recuse himself from the negotiations process.
Before this, both parties had agreed on terms of a resumption agreement and were prepared to sign said document presented by the union, so that there is no victimisation of either party.
The document stipulated that during the consideration of the matter in dispute under the procedure, there shall be no strike, stoppage of work whether of a partial or general nature, go slow, boycott, picketing, retardation of production or any other interference with the Ministry’s operations, by the Union, nor shall there be any lockout or any other form of interference with the ministry’s operations, by the Union, nor shall there be any lockout or any other form of interference by the ministry.
The government has already addressed over 20 issues affecting teachers, aimed at improving their working conditions and overall welfare.
In fact, at the time of the last strike, President Dr Irfaan Ali had reminded that he has already met with teachers across the country and outlined the government’s plan to improve their livelihoods.
On April 19, High Court judge, Justice Sandil Kissoon had ruled in favour of the GTU, and stipulated that teachers’ salaries should not be deducted following their participation in the previous strike.
The High Court had also ruled against the government’s decision to discontinue the deduction of union dues from the salaries of teachers for the GTU. This came on the heels of the Government’s refusal to negotiate salary increases for the period December 2019 to 2023 but instead was ready to do so for a multi-year agreement starting 2024.