‘Teachers must be patient’- Nagamootoo says in response to wage hike
By Bibi Khatoon
As teachers prepare for a countrywide strike, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo believes that they should be patient when it comes to an increase in their wages and salaries.
One day after the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) walked out of a meeting with Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, the Prime Minister on Friday stated that “we will give consideration to teachers but they must be patient and allow us to see methods which we could raise revenues because if you have no revenues, you can distribute nothing.”
The Prime Minister made the comments during the 21st National Award ceremony of the Ministry of Education on Friday at the National Cultural Centre, where he sought to draw a nexus between the annual increases given to teachers and public servants to those given to Ministers of Government and Members of Parliament.
In his address to students, teachers and other education stakeholders, Nagamootoo said that the right thing was done to give “Ministers and Members of Parliament a top-up in the beginning  but they didn’t receive a single cent increase for 2016 and 2017, and I can tell you this that Ministers and Members of Parliament will not receive a cent more for 2018.”
He said the Government has been trying to meet the concerns of teachers as he again sought to draw a relation between the monies received by him while he served as a teacher several years ago.
“I want to let you know that in the last 18 months, the minimum wage has increased by 51%, we wish we could do more, the minimum wage couldn’t buy a lot of things but in my time, I worked for $60 a month when I was a teacher, equivalent to 30 US dollars per month. Today it’s about US$300 but we have to take things into incrementally and hope for the best,” the Prime Minister said.
Nagamootoo also alluded to the emerging oil and gas industry stating that “we can become very rich if we manage our resources in oil and gas properly and we distribute it to all of our peoples equitably.”
The Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) on Thursday (October 26, 2017) stormed out of a meeting with the Minister of Education after its members felt disrespected by the stance she took on several issues affecting them.
GTU President Mark Lyte told News Room that one of the major issues affecting teachers across the country is the fact that they have not received a salary increase since 2015. Lyte said when this matter was raised with Minister Henry, she informed the Union that teachers will be getting the same increase as other public servants.
Those remarks prompted the Union to discontinue the engagement as the State Minister Joseph Harmon had earlier promised that the GTU salary and wage negotiations would be separate from that of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).
Lyte said, from the tone of the Minister, she was not at all prepared to provide answers to their concerns which includes debunching, why teachers in far-flung areas have not been receiving allowances, duty-free concessions, incentives for additional qualifications and clothing allowances since 2015.
The GTU is rallying its members to go on a countrywide strike for next Thursday and Friday. The Minister of Education also spoke at Friday’s event and congratulated teachers for their hard work.