GTU will not accept one-off payment – Lyte

first_imgPlanned strike…hinterland teachers on board as Union to dispatch officers…actions are not consistent with initial agreement – GovtAlmost one week after the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) announced a countrywide strike following a breakdown of talks between itself and Government, no representatives of the coalition Administration have officially engaged the Union on its demands.This was disclosed by GTU President Mark Lyte, who told Guyana Times on Tuesday that the Union would not cave in on its promise to not accept any one-off lump sum payment from Government.“We are not going to be able to take any lump sum payment because that’s notGTU President Mark Lytewhat we’re bringing to the table,” Lyte stressed.“We haven’t gotten a single response from the Administration, [but] we are still open for talks providing that they come, but the talks have to be definitive because we are not going to renege on our plan. The only way that will be aborted is if the plan that is brought to the table is acceptable and satisfying,” he further asserted on Tuesday.On Monday, the GTU circulated a letter to inform its members that they were not to report for pre-term activities until further notice. The Union has also urged head teachers to also begin handing over school keys to the respective regional Education Departments.Lyte told this newspaper on Tuesday that a majority of teachers were against the Administration’s “unreasonable” proposals brought to the Union. The GTU Head added that for now, a “full out” strike has not begun, but if nothing comes to the table, there will be picketing and later, several marches.Lyte envisions that 90 per cent of teachers in the public schools were ready to support their union’s move.“From all corners of the Union, the members are with us in saying that Government has been unreasonable in terms of what they brought to the table and the Union needed to take this option. We have great support all across and we believe that when we go through with this, it’s going to significantly see a large number of our teachers,” he noted.He said too that hinterland teachers were on board but to solidify their stance,Education Minister Nicolette HenryGTU would mobilise its resources to get additional support for the industrial action.“In the new week, we will be having officers sent out to the different regions, including the hinterland to further mobilise our members for the action,” Lyte said.According to information provided, when the two sides were still engaging in dialogue, GTU impressed on Government that it was willing to negotiate percentages for multi-year agreements. As reported, the Union initially requested a 40 per cent increase in 2016, a 45 per cent in 2017, and a 50 per cent in 2018, 2019 and 2020. However, they compromised during the negotiation phase and agreed to accept a 40 per cent increase to serve as a base from 2016 with five per cent incremental increase for the remaining years. Guyana Times was told that though GTU proposed a 40 per cent increase, it would have been willing to accept 25 per cent.Another of the main issues was debunching where GTU said that it was willing to negotiate 0.5% from each of the years 2011-2015 and to have the debunching implemented for 2016 onward. Guyana Times learnt Tuesday that the union would have accepted $16,000 clothing allowance as opposed to the initial $25,000 they were asking for.Govt’s positionMeanwhile, Government broke its silence on the matter later on Tuesday through Education Minister Nicolette Henry. Through the Ministry of the Presidency’s Public Information and Press Services Unit, Henry said that the talks have not yet been concluded. She said Tuesday that a decision was taken for another meeting, which will be geared to iron out the remaining issues. This meeting could be held by the end of this week. The Ministry’s statement added that “Government remains committed to paying teachers their increases”.“[On] the issue related to duty-free concessions, we agreed entirely on what was proposed; when it came to the issue of housing and the Revolving Fund, we agreed also. However, [on] the issue of salary and debunching, we did not agree on at all, [since] the Government proposed a ballpark figure. In the case of debunching, we are looking at $200 million to address debunching for the year 2018.  The Union suggested that they believe that it should be retroactive and, therefore, they were not in agreement with looking at just 2018. In addition to that, the issue of salary also, for which we had allocated the sum of $700 million, they felt that should also be retroactive,” Henry is quoted as saying.The Minister said further that there was no ulterior motive or “nothing sinister” about awarding a ballpark figure. She was in fact quoted as saying that remuneration would be given in keeping with what Government could afford at present. At the same time, she said that it was agreed at the initial meeting that “a consultant will be hired to determine how these monies are going to be allocated in the case of the teachers, regarding both debunching and salaries.”Minister Henry further outlined that in the absence of a Multi-Year Agreement, Government provided salary increases in 2016 and 2017 for teachers in accordance with what was given to public servants. She noted too that the Government, over the past three years, “invested heavily in improving the education system to create a more conducive environment for teaching”.The GTU-Government negotiations have been ongoing since 2015 when the Multi-Year Agreement came to an end. It was last week that GTU’s Executive met with the Education Minister and Social Protection Minister Amna Ally, among other senior officials, but Government rejected the Union’s proposals for salary increases. (Shemuel Fanfair)last_img

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