Workers unions are formed to represent their subjects (workers). However, it is sad to know that – according to observations, reports and complaints – the Guyana Teachers Union has failed to do so over the past 15 months (since the pandemic began back in March 2020).
The Union’s partial objective is to “obtain and maintain for its members individually and collectively…proper remuneration, terms of employment, and such other condition of service…” The question is: Has the Union lived up to its objective? The answer is “No!”
Has the Union obtained “proper remuneration” for its members since the novel pandemic hit Guyana? “No!”
The GTU has been collecting union dues from teachers continuously, but let’s just focus on the past 15 months. What form of relief have the Union leadership/executives taken up since then? None!
Did the Union bargain with the Government for a stimulus grant/bonus in the faith of “proper conditions of service and renumeration?” No!
Did the Union bargain for hazard pay for those teachers who had to have face-to-face interaction with grades 10 and 11 pupils in the midst of a pandemic, exposing themselves and their families to COVID-19?
Was there any form of relief (hamper distribution) to teachers? (An initiative taken by many independent groups during the first phase of the pandemic.) Many were affected emotionally by the pandemic, was the Union active in bringing ease to teachers who might have been affected in this way? Another NO!”
Now, let’s do some simple arithmetic. Realistically, the GTU represents in excess of 8000 teachers. The Union collects $700 monthly from each membered teacher. Monthly total dues collected by the Union would amount to $5,600,000. Calculating since the COVID-19 pandemic began would total to a whopping $84,000,000 the Union had collected for the past 15 months.
The question now is: What have the union leadership/ executives done with the money collected in the past 15 months? No bargain or form of relief was given to teachers on behalf of the Union by the leadership /executives. Instead, the Union leadership/executives enjoy the fat salary paid to them by the Union and live the fancy lifestyle while the teachers are forced into silence by the politically affiliated leadership/executives.
Editor, what has the Union turned into? Is it now the host of politicians? Is it now being used to catapult one into the political arena? Or is it a pawn used to become a Member of Parliament, as we’ve seen in the 2020 General and Regional Elections?
In fact, it can be boldly stated that part of the Union leadership/executive has failed to represent teachers to its full capacity at the relevant forums necessary.
This letter was penned after the author received numerous complaints from teachers about their disappointment in the Union’s leadership/executives.
The growing call is for politically affiliated executives who bring great conflict of interest to the positions they hold to resign from their post in the Union, which would pave the way for neutral negotiations and new ideas with the growing population of young teachers in the system.