Guyana Chronicle:– “We hitting the road, “There is no more meeting,” The struggle is real “

Those were some of the comments made by teachers after they were informed by President of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) , Mark Lyte on Thursday afternoon that there was no result in talks between the body and the Ministry of Education (MoE) on the issue of salaries and increases for teachers.

Lyte told reporters outside the Ministry of Education at Lot 21 , Brickdam around 1700hrs that while several issues were ironed out at the meeting , the main issue of salaries remain the same.

“The union’s position will have to remain the same ,” Lyte said as he noted that the issue of finance was “extremely important.”

Minister of Education , Nicolette Henry told reporters following the meeting that the ministry is guided by the collective bargaining agreement, which she noted captures very clearly the procedures both sides are guided by.

As regards strike action , she said there is a standard operating procedure in the event that there is unrest or industrial action.”So if there is a need to activate that then the ministry would have no other option. We will work within the predetermined frameworks because they do allow for us to continue to have fruitful negotiations.
A lot of the issues that were unresolved initially we gained some traction on those,” Henry said.

Lyte told reporters that the main concern was that teachers cannot survive on their current salaries.”We do not need another meeting,” Lyte said as he was surrounded by other union representatives and teachers.

He said when results of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations are released this week, one will see that the performances of students have improved and he noted that this further strengthens the call for the teachers to take strike action. The union will now mobilize its members in each administrative region as it prepares for the strike.

“This is a bread and butter issue,” Lyte said as he noted that the union is not taking a political position.

The issue will now be addressed by the Department of Labour of the Ministry of Social Protection which will put an arbitrator in place to debate on the matter. “The teachers must send a strong statement,” Lyte said.

Earlier on Thursday,during a post–Cabinet press briefing , Minister of State Joseph Harmon told members of the media that  the aim of the negotiation team of the MoE was to ensure there is “common ground” and to  “ensure teachers are encouraged to stay in the classrooms and not on the streets.”

He noted the importance of teachers in molding the minds of the young people and that government‘s interest is always to ensure that they are comfortable.

“We are doing our best to ensure out teachers get a better package than they do have,” he said.

He reiterated that the aim is to find common ground during negotiations between the MoE and the GTU.”What that means is that we will explore every possibility to explore that our teachers are satisfied with the offer that is being made and that we are able at the commence at the next school year to ensure that our teachers are in the classroom,” Minister Harmon said.