Teachers whose absence were unauthorised last week will not be paid – Government
Teachers within the public sector who were unauthorisedly absent from work last week will have their salaries docked, Government has announced.
Protest actions countrywide, led by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), has resulted in hundreds of teachers picketing for pay increases. It is an action which Government has labelled political in nature.
In a statement on Monday, it was disclosed that the Education Ministry and Local Government and Regional Development Ministry received from each of the 11 Education Districts, a list of teachers who have not reported for duty at their assigned school. Additionally, these persons did not receive the necessary leave approval or permission during the school week ending February 9, 2024.
“This unauthorsed absence constitutes a breach of their conditions of service and their statutory duties and attracts legal sanctions. In consequence thereof, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development wish to advise that these teachers will not be paid for the days for which they were unauthorizedly absent,” the letter stated.
The Education Ministry said this will be reflected in the March 2024 salaries in accordance with law. Earlier, GTU General Secretary, Coretta Mc Donald had indicted on the protest lines that the Union would be compensating teachers. However, efforts to contact her on Monday to determine if the Union would keep this promised proved futile.
President of the GTU, Mark Lyte had indicated to the Guyana Times one week ago that their support base will persevere in these protest actions until there is a response from the ministry.
Lyte was quoted, “There is always a threat that they will cut your pay by the employer whenever there is a strike, whether they deem it illegal or not. So, we are not going to be backing off because of that. Our teachers are prepared to go the long haul, even if their salaries are cut.”
It has been over one week since the protest actions were taken. Government has come out since then to share facts, highlighting that salaries for graduate teachers increased by some 35 per cent since 2020 and will reach almost 50 per cent by 2025.
Urging teachers to be fair and put the interest of the students at heart, President Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday appealed to teachers to remember the good the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has done for them, and the commitments it has made to do even more. He had positioned that Guyana’s development is an incremental one and as such, public servants must be patient.
“Of course, it takes time. We’ve announced a series of measures to improve the lives of teachers, nurses and Public Servants, and these measures are going to continue even before the end of this year. No one needs to push this Government, we’re committed to this task,” President Ali had said.
Ali referred to several initiatives the Government has rolled out and will continue to roll out to benefit teachers, while he urged them not to be used as political pawns.
The president highlighted measures the PPP/C Government implemented after it took office, including correcting salary scales for $700 million; increasing the remote area incentive from $9000 to $20,000; over a 100 per cent increase and the provision of 3800 scholarships to teachers.
He also referenced the $10,000 allowance for teachers with university degrees and the opportunity within their school to earn their degrees through the Associate Degree, Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL), and online teacher training programmes.
This week, the transparency and accountability of the GTU came into scrutiny, having found that their last audited statement was done in 1989 and financial statements to the Registrar was last submitted in 2004. President Ali urged teachers to ask questions of their union.
“I’m not going to go into the accountability issue of the union. But teachers must ask questions…$2 billion invested at 10 per cent returns can give you annual returns of $200 million. No audit from 2004. Those are questions you must ask your union,” he said.
“But I can assure you that this Government is committed to making the lives of every single worker in this country better, but workers must be committed to this process; workers must understand that there’s a short-, medium- and long-term plan. I can look every worker in the eye and say to them, ‘We’ve got your back’,” President Ali also added.