GEORGETOWN, Guyana, August 23, 2018 (CMC) – President, David Granger, says his administration does not want a confrontation with teachers, who are planning to embark upon industrial action that could disrupt the opening of the new school term in September.
Granger insisted that the coalition government cannot afford to pay more money to the teachers, and urged them to re-consider their position.
“The Minister of Education is working towards an agreement. We don’t want a confrontation, we don’t want a clash. We value the service of teachers,” Granger said.
Following talks with Education Minister, Nicolette Henry, last Thursday, President of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), Mark Lyte, said that the union is maintaining its position and that teachers would begin their industrial action from August 27.
He said the government is holding firm to its position to offer GUY$700 million to cover across-the-board increases and GUY$200 million to cover de-bunching. The GTU said it is still pressing its demand for a 40 percent wage hike for teachers.
Lyte said he saw no need for another meeting with the Education Ministry and the GTU’s position on the strike action will remain in place. He, however, noted that the Ministry and the GTU have reached agreement on several other issues that were part of the negotiation process.
President Granger, speaking to reporters on the side-lines of a commemorative event for the 195th anniversary of the 1823 Demerara Revolt, urged the teachers to re-think their position “in light of the obligations of the government to other sectors of the economy”.
“I think that some of the demands are justifiable and we provided the funds, which could, in our estimation, provide relief to the teachers,” Granger said, adding that the government was “continuing to work for a solution”, in recognition of the teachers’ rights and government’s own obligations.
Granger reminded reporters that the salaries of the lowest paid teachers have been increased by 50 percent, at a time when the government had to find GUY$32 billion to deal with inherited problems in the sugar industry.
“The teachers weren’t excluded, they weren’t ignored, they weren’t omitted,” he said.