Retirees, 300 teachers from Cyril Potter College on standby as strike looms

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The Ministry of Education has a contingency plan in place if the strike action by the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) materializes when the new school term commences on September 3.

Chief Education Officer, Marcel Hutson revealed that should teachers stay away next Monday, the service of some 300 teachers from the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) will be utilized.

In addition to that, there are monitors across the regions who will ‘step-up to the plate’ to assist in the interim, the Ministry of Education noted in a release Monday evening.

According to the Education Ministry, the services of retired teachers and parents will also be used.

A team of officials, led by Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry on Monday visited Regions Five and Six and assured parents and school administrators that school will re-open as usual come September 3 despite the pending nationwide strike action by the GTU.

Addressing the gatherings at Berbice High School in Region Six and Latchmansingh Primary School in Region Five, the Education Minister said that she understands the value of teachers and appreciates the great work they undertake on a daily basis.

Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry

“Further, the Education Minister said that it should be noted that of the eight proposals proffered by the GTU for the Teachers Multi-Year Agreement for 2016-2020 there has been a full or partial agreement in all the areas except for the ‘heaving lifting’ issues where the MoE offered $700M for salary increases for 2018 and $200M for debunching for the same year,” the release from the Education Ministry noted.

That offer was rejected by the teachers union. The GTU proposed an across-the-board increase in salary of 40% for 2016, 45% in 2017, 50% in 2018, 50% in 2019 and 50% in 2020.

“We look at them (GTU proposed increase) with sincerity and we could not meet those financial demands. More thought needed to put into the proposal.

“As a Government, we have to look at salary increases in its entirety, teachers are a part of the wider public service family who is entitled to increases as well,” Minister Henry was quoted as saying in the release.

In reference to the conciliation talks slated for today between the Ministry and the GTU, Minister Henry is optimistic that the meeting will bear fruit since it is her wish for a speedy resolution to the matter.

“We will continue to look out for our teachers and children, I cannot play around with people’s education, get your children out to school,” Henry was quoted as saying.

Minister Henry made it clear that she did not embark on the countrywide engagements to disagree or proffer a position on the way the GTU has dealt with the issue, rather as Minister of Education it is her duty to ensure that the nation’s children are educated so that as a country we can win the war on illiteracy, poverty, and ignorance.

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