By Mark Murray
Preliminary results from the Guyana Teachers Union’s (GTU) elections show that Mark Lyte copped the most votes for the union’s presidency.
This was after hours of tabulation on Saturday (March 27) at the Union’s Woolford Avenue head office.
Lyte was contending the elections against Milne Seymour of the GTU Plaisance branch for the organization’s top executive position.
During an interview with News Room yesterday (Saturday) he expressed gratitude to all the teachers who have supported him over the last two years, noting he plans to do a lot more for them.
“We will continue the struggle to ensure that teachers get a livable wage and better working conditions and the treatment given to teachers would be one of respect” said Lyte.
Back in 2014 Lyte first became president of GTU when he replaced Colin Bynoe. He has served as a teacher for 19 years, holds a Master’s in Education, a Bachelors in Social Studies, an Associate Degree in Theology, a Management Certificate from the Ministry of Education, as well as his Trained Teachers Certificate.
Increased Teacher Participation
Over six thousand ballots were sent out to teachers around the country by the elections officer for educators to choose who they think should be elected to the GTU’s executive body.
Only 3174 ballots were returned to GTU which Lyte views as an increase in comparison to previous elections held by the Guyana Teachers Union.
“This year we have seen an increase in terms of the ballot’s returned because it is customary that we would send out that amount of over six thousand, sometimes seven thousand and only 2500 would be returned” Lyte added.
In response to what can be considered teachers lack of interest to participate in such elections, the GTU President disclosed that steps are being taken to change the voting process of the elections.
Ballots are usually sent via the Post Office to the homes of teachers and “we have recognized that this is not really working” Lyte explained.
He said this year during the GTU’s Biennial Delegates Conference a decision will be made to have a resolution moved that could adjust the electoral process.
According to Lyte “you may very well see elections taking place at the conference rather than through the Post…so where the representatives to the delegates to the conference would vote on behalf of the teachers so that would be the change.” He noted that such a process is in keeping with the normal practice in other countries.
“We are looking forward to having the process changed and of course it has implications for changing of the (GTU) constitution because the constitution in its present state says that each teacher must receive a ballot via the Postal system”
Coretta McDonald will remain as the General Secretary after going against Jermaine Figuiera for a second time for the position. This is the sixth time she has held the position.
“The journey of another phase has just began and teachers this is our time to let our voices be heard. I look forward for your continued support as we charter this new course, as I present myself again as your humble servant” said Ms. McDonald.
While all of the executive positions are being held by the same individuals who were voted back to serve a second time there is a slight change.
With over 700 votes Collis Nicholson will serve as the new Regional Vice President for Demerara.
Nicholson said “teachers will see the dawn of a new era under my watch and they can look forward with great aspirations for passion, resourceful, and vigilance for a unique leader.”
While outlining his role in the union as being multifaceted Nicholson aims “to make sure that all teachers are treated fairly while receiving equal distribution of resources.”
The Guyana Teachers Union has some thirty-nine branches across the country with just over seven thousand active members.
Below is a breakdown of the elections results:
GUYANA TEACHERS UNION (GTU) 2016 Preliminary ELECTIONS RESULT
|Regional Vice Presidents:
Donnette Althea D’Andrade
Desiree Van Lewin
|Deputy General Secretary:
|Second Vice President:||Julian Cambridge
|First Vice President||Lesmeine Collins