Teachers threaten to strike after talks with Gov’t collapse

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Teachers represented by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) have decided to embark on strike action after the latest round of negotiations with the Government collapsed.

Following a meeting with Government Ministers and officials of the Education Ministry on Thursday, at which several of its requests were refused, the GTU met with some of its members who all called for strike action to commence prior to the start of the September school term.

President of the Union, Mark Lyte said a letter which is required to give due notice will be prepared today (Friday, August 10, 2018) and sent to the Education Ministry.

“This situation has not changed and this is the Government which has said to us repeatedly teachers are important…I have had enough and I think the time has come,” the Union President said.

The teachers believe that it is time to show the Government that they are serious as they are “fed up” and “frustrated” with the situation.

The GTU and the Government began consultations in November of 2017 bargaining for salary increases across the board in a multi-year agreement. The agreement which runs from 2016 to 2020 will begin with a 20% increase for 2016, 45% for 2017 and 50% for 2018 to 2020.

However, the Education Ministry proposed a ballpark figure of $700M to facilitate an increase in salaries for all teachers based on the current salary scale. The Ministry posited that a specialist will have to be contracted to work with the GTU (if agreed) to determine the percentage of increase per category.

This was refused by the GTU on the basis that the amount did not cater for 2016 and 2017 which the Government promised to address.

Secondly, the GTU asked for teachers to continually be placed in scales which will reflect the results of the 2011 de-bunching agreement but the Government again proposed a ballpark figure to facilitate the debunching exercise for the 2018/2019 school year. This was again refused by the Union which noted that it did not cater for previous years.

In attendance at Thursday’s meeting were Minister of Education Nicolette Henry, Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally, Minister with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott and  Representative of  Minister Roopnarine, Ms. Sampson; Permanent Secretary (ag), Ms. Adele Clark; Chief Education Officer Mr. Marcel Hutson; Human Resource Manager Ms. Jacqueline Simon; Senior Personnel Officer  Public Service Ms. Gail Williams, Legal Officer Ministry of Education Ms. Kelly-Ann Pryce Hercules, representing the Government.

Representing the Union was President  Mr. Mark Lyte, First Vice President Ms. Lesmeine P. Collins, Treasurer Samantha Alleyne, Deputy General Secretary Ms. Jacqueline Douglas, Admin. Field Officer  Mr. Lancelot Baptiste, RVP Essequibo Ms. Carmel Williams and RVP Berbice Ms. Donnette D’Andrade.

Minister Ally indicated that while the GTU’s demands are not unreasonable, consideration should be given to the economic status of the Government.

Minister Henry in a release from the Ministry noted that there are difficulties in honouring all the requests put forward by the Union but implored the Union representatives to “be responsible enough to ensure that as many as possible if not all benefits from the new approach be carefully considered and accepted.”

The Education Ministry’s statement said both teams agreed that it will carefully consider what was discussed at the meeting and agree to a date for further discussions at the earliest possible time.

Below is a list of the GTU’s proposal and the Ministry ’s response. The table supplied by the Education Ministry also outlined what was agreed to and what was not.

Proposal By GTU Counterproposal by MOE Decision Taken
1 Salary Issues

1.1

An across-the-board increase in salary of forty per cent (40%) for 2016, forty-five per cent in (2017), fifty per cent (50%) in 2018, fifty per cent (50%) in 2019 and fifty per cent (50%) in 2020 be granted to all categories of teachers/teacher educators for the years 2016-2020.  (Should there be inflation higher than the percentage agreed upon, then the teachers/teacher educators must get the benefit of the difference).

 

•Government of Guyana will make available a ball park figure to facilitate an increase in salaries for all teachers based on the current salary scale.

•A specialist will have to be contracted to work with the GTU (if agreed) to determine the percentage of increase per category

•The Guyana Teachers Union will submit their proposal for salary increase.

 

The Guyana Teachers’ Union disagreed on this counterproposal, stating that the amount allocated did not cater for the two previous years which were not addressed by the government but solemnly promised by the Government.

The Guyana Teaches’ Union  agreed to the services of a specialist offered by the Ministry of Education

 

1.2

Teachers continue to be placed in scales which will reflect the results of the de-bunching as at 2011 de-bunching agreement.

 

The Government of Guyana will make available a ball park figure to facilitate de-bunching exercise for teachers for the new school year 2018/2019.

 

 

The Guyana Teachers Union will submit their proposal for de – bunching in keeping with the sum allocated.

 

 

The Guyana Teachers’ Union disagreed on this counterproposal, stating the amount allocated did not cater for the years signed and agreed to previously by the Government.

They noted that previous Permanent Secretary signed an agreement to honor the de- bunching payment from 2011.

1.3

An additional performance-based incentive of three (3%) per cent per annum, of the total Teachers’ Wage Bill, will be paid to eligible teachers during the period of this Multi-year Agreement with effect from January 01, 2016.

 

 

The Guyana Teachers Union has withdrawn this request.

 

1.4

The payment of “de-bunching”, be retroactive to 2011 when it was agreed)

The de-bunching exercise will be effective from the beginning of the new school year, September 2018. The signed de-bunching agreement should be satisfied before another proposal is accepted.
1.5

All Teachers/teacher educators be granted a monthly Emotional/Stress/Risk Allowance of $5,000.

 

Holistic approach is recommended taking into account the wider public service – This Allowance cannot be considered at this time The Guyana Teachers Union agreed that a holistic approach will be considered taking into account the wider public service
1.6

All Headmasters/

Mistresses and Principals/Vice Principals and in the case of Deputy Headmaster/Mistresses and Deputy Principals acting as the Head of a school/institution be granted a maintenance allowance of $7,000. monthly for their vehicles (cars, motor cycles and boats)

All new allowances will have to be considered in line with the wider public service, hence thisallowance cannot be considered at this time

 

 

The Guyana Teachers Union agreed that a holistic approach will considered taking into account the wider public service.
1.7

That all teachers/teacher educators who are owners of motor vehicles when they are invited to meetings by the Ministry of Education and/or are traveling for the conduct of Teaching Practice organised by the Cyril Potter College of Education be granted mileage.

New allowances will have to be considered in line with the wider public service; hence this allowance cannot be considered at this time.

Teachers will continue to receive refunds for travel expenses when on official travel ditties

The Guyana Teachers Union agreed that a holistic approach will considered taking into account the wider public service.
1.8

That all teachers/teacher educators be granted double salary in the month of December.

The Guyana Teachers Union has withdrawn this request.

 

 

 

This request was withdrawn.
2. Non salary issues

2.1

Increased monthly remuneration for teachers who have improved their qualifications as follows:

-Certificate in Education –

$   7,000.

-Diploma in Education

$ 10,000.

-Masters’ Degree                      $25,000.

-Doctoral Degree                      $35,000.

-Management Certificate

$   6,000.

-Special Needs

$ 10,000.

 

 

Teachers will continue to receive the approved rates for improved qualifications:

 

(a)Certificate in Education             $   4,000.    (b)Diploma Education                         6,000.             

(c) Master’s Degree                            10,000.              

(d)Doctoral Degree                             30,000.               

 

 

 

 

GTU Disagreed with this noting that the present rate was being paid for the last ten years. They stated that Teachersneed to be incentivized when they improved their qualifications.

2.2

All teachers/teachers educators will be provided with an annual clothing allowance of $25,000. per annum with effect from January 01, 2016

Teachers will be paid the approved rate for annual clothing of $8,000. from the new school year 2018/2019. GTU disagreed. They indicated this amount does not cater for the increase in cost of living and does not bridge the gap of the last two years as the uniform allowance was not paid.
2.3

That Headmasters/mistresses, Principals and those staff who are living on the premises of schools/institutions with dormitories (e.g.) (President’s College, Aurora Secondary, Anna Regina Multilateral, St Ignatius Secondary, North West Secondary, Charity Secondary, Paramaktoi Secondary, Annai Secondary and CPCE), be given a monthly Responsibility Allowance equivalent to five (5) and three (3) increments, respectively.

 

 

New allowances will have to be considered in line with the wider public service; hence this allowance cannot be considered at this time. It was suggested that the allocation of house parents should be reviewed; this will significantly reduce the responsibility of Head Teachers of Dormitory Schools.
2.4

Whitley Council leave allowance will be payable to eligible teachers at the end of the month prior to the month in which they will become eligible.

The Whitley Council Allowance will be paid in June of the year of entitlement. Agreed that the Whitley Council Allowance should be paid on or before the month of June.
2.5

That Whitley council leave be granted every three (3) years and on the time of first appointment

Teachers will continue to receive Whitley Council Leave and Allowance every four (4) years. Guyana Teachers’ Union suggested that more consideration should be given to this request.
2.6

That an Annual leave of one (1) month be given to all Principals and other member of staff of Technical Trade/Craft Institutions who are called upon to perform continuous teaching/training duties during the student’s vacation period

 

This is in place in keeping with the Ministry of Education Circular No. 13/2013, Reference No. ED:32/3/1 dated 2013-11-05

Principals and Deputy Principals of Technical Trade/Craft Institutions are granted one month’s leave during the students’ vacation.

 

Agreed

3. Duty Free Concession

3.1

That annually, for the life of this agreement, two hundred (200) duty-free concessions for motor vehicles up to 2700 cc and ATV Mountain bikes will be granted to Headmasters/Mistresses and Principals of Grades “A” and “B” Schools (Nursery, Primary and Secondary) and Principals, Deputy Principals/Vice Principals, Technical Institutions and teachers training college), immediately upon appointment.

 

 

Teachers will be granted 100 duty free concession per year in keeping with the agreed eligibility criteria.

 

Agreed

3.1.1

That Headmasters/Mistresses of Grade “C”, “D” and “E” schools, Deputies of (Primary and Secondary, Technical Institute) Schools and Senior Lecturers CPCE/Technical/Craft Institutions after three (3) years of their appointment be granted the said concession.

 

 

As stated at 3:1

Agreed
3.1.2

That Senior Masters/Mistresses and Heads of Department of all schools and Lecturers of CPCE/Technical/Craft Institutions after (6) six years in the same position, after their appointment as such, be granted the said concessions.  These persons must be members of the GTU for a period of not less than three (3) years.  These persons must have at least (3) years remaining upon eligibility.

 

As stated at 3:1

Agreed
3.2

That one (1), motor vehicle be given, duty free, to the Union Biennially

This request cannot be considered at this time. Agreed
3.2.1

That all Central Executive Officers of the Union be granted one (1) duty free vehicle 2700 cc upon their election to such a position.

 

This request cannot be considered at this time.

Agreed
4. Scholarship

4.1

Fifty (50) Scholarships per year, tenable at the University of Guyana, will be granted from the academic year 2016 to teachers.  They will be sponsored by the Government of Guyana and must be members of the Guyana Teachers’ Union.  The Guyana Teachers’ Union must select teachers for this scholarship.

Thirty teachers will continue to scholarships, for a period of four years, at the University of Guyana.

An additional 20 scholarships will be granted to teachers to pursue science at the University of Guyana.

Agreed but suggested the additional twenty (20) scholarships should be extended to include technical training.
5. Hinterland Benefits

5.1

Teachers/teacher educators and members of their families (Spouse and children under 18 years) who have left their residence on the “Coastland” to serve in the Interior and Hinterland areas, be granted one (1) return airfare or a mode of transportation of the teacher’s choice, depending on their location, and or health status at the end of each school term.  Teachers who belong to and are living in the Interior and Hinterland/Riverin areas will be given a once per year return fare to the Coastland or any other Interior/Hinterland area.

The policy will be enforced to ensure that teachers and their families who serve in the Interior are given, once per year, a return fare to the Coastland.

 

The Guyana Teachers’ Union  agreed that;

(a)   The current agreement which is per term be continued.

(b)  Teachers who live in the hinterland but teach at another location in the hinterland be given the same consideration.

5.2

That there be Station and Hard lying Allowance of ten thousand dollars ($10,000.) each

 

Teachers will be considered for increased allowance in keeping with the wider Public Service

RAI

Disagreed – Hardline allowances should be considered by the Government.
5.3

That teachers/teacher educators who serve the Hinterland/Riverin areas be given two years to serve their contract time and in the case of University to given five (5) points for promotion having served four years

The Union should review this request and should consider other incentives. Disagreed- the incentive should be used to attract and encourage reluctant teachers to consider teaching in the Riverine areas.
6. Other Welfare Matters

6.1

That all appointments, disciplinary matters and promotional responsibilities of Senior and junior teaching staff/lecturers be up held by the TSC rather than being undertaken by the School Board Secretariat

The intention to decentralize is laudable and efforts are made to strengthen the School Board Secretariat to have persons with the competence and knowledge to deal with the issues in schools. Disagreed – The Guyana Teachers’ Union noted that persons on the School boards are often not familiar with the Education System rules and therefore unable to perform effectively.
6.2

The ratio of students to teacher is agreed as:

Nursery 15:1

Primary 20:1 Grades 1 & 2

Primary 25:1 Grades 3 – 6

Secondary 25:1

Practical Instructional Centres 15:1

The ratio of students to teacher will be subject to be availability of resources. The Guyana Teachers’ Union sought clarification which was provided by The Chief Education Officer. Mr. Hutson made it clear that the ‘availability of resources’ referred to the number of classrooms, class sizes, space and number of teachers and so forth when considering the matter.
6.3

That the Ministry of Education continues to contribute annually to the Housing Revolving Fund for the duration of this agreement.  This fund should be jointly administered by the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers’ Union.  Beneficiaries must be members of the Guyana Teachers’ Union.

The Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers Union to mutually agree on a mechanism for the implementation of the Housing Revolving Fund. Honourable Minister Scott suggested that the Credit Union be asked to provide favourable affordable loans for teachers and Commercial Banks be approached to collaborate with the government towards this request.
6.4

That all Central Executive Officers be released to perform Union duties every Wednesday and from time to time.

All Central Executive Officers are released to perform GTU duties every Wednesday and from time to time.  

Agreed

6.5

That the President and General Secretary be released with pay on a full-time basis to serve the membership of the GTU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The General Secretary is released with pay on a full-time basis.

 

Full-time release for the President is considered.

 

Agreed

6.6

That all General Council representatives be released from time to time to attend to teachers’ matters

All General Council Representative are released from time to time to attend to teachers’ matters.  Agreed
6.7

That an extra unit (Teacher) be placed at schools where Central Executive members of the Union are attached.

This request cannot be considered since the Central Executive members are not released on a full-time basis. Guyana Teachers Union suggested consideration should be given in cases of the President and General Secretary
7. Meetings

7.1

That the Ministry of Education and Guyana Teachers’ Union meet at least once per month for Professional Development sessions at a time agreed.  These meetings can be called either by MOE or GTU

 

The statutory meeting between the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers’ Union is in place, however the Chief Education Officer to ensure that it must be held regularly.        Agreed
 

7.2

That Branches on the Coastland be given one session per month to hold meetings while Hinterland teachers affected by geographical variances are given one day per term.

 

Branches on the Coastland will be given one session per month to hold meetings while Hinterland teachers affected by geographical variances are given one day per term.

Agreed
8. Houses

8.1

That teachers/teacher educators be given at least fifty (50) houses in every developed Housing Scheme

This matter is to be considered in the position paper for the revolving loan fund. It was agreed that a committee should be organized to effectively implement the Housing Revolving Fund. The Hon. Minister Nicolette Henry suggested that this be done at the next statutory meeting.

 

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