Gov’t refuses conditions to call off strike

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By Devina Samaroo

The Ministry of Education Wednesday afternoon turned down a proposal made by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) in exchange for the calling off of a countrywide strike, according to Union President, Mark Lyte.

The Union wants to go to arbitration to resolve the long-running impasse of salary negotiations but the Ministry prefers the method of conciliation by the Department of Labour.

In arbitration, the parties shall select arbitrators. The selected arbitrators then shall resolve the dispute and render an arbitration award which is final and binding.

For conciliation, a third party shall play the role of a conciliator in helping the parties to resolve the dispute through negotiation.

GTU officials outside the Department of Labour

But GTU President Mark Lyte told reporters after an hour-long meeting at the Ministry of Social Protection’s Brickdam Office that the Department of Labour is in no position to act as a neutral authority in conciliation.

Claiming that Ministers Amna Ally and Keith Scott were advocating on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Lyte said the entire Ministry has been compromised.

“We cannot trust the process,” Lyte stated.

The GTU Head posited that the Union’s position is clear and now the way forward will have to be decided by the Ministry.

“The ball is in their court. We are willing to call the strike off tonight if they agree to our terms,” he stated.

Chief Education Officer (CEO), Marcel Hutson who was among three persons representing the Education Ministry at the meeting, did not say much to the media when pressed about their take on the GTU’s proposal.

He simply stated that “we want our students in school,” as he rushed to his car.

He promised to provide more details on the Ministry’s position in a press release. Up to press time, no statement was issued.

The GTU’s terms for arbitration are:

  • There shall be no victimization by either party
  • There shall be no loss of pay and seniority
  • The extant issues be referred to an arbitration panel
  • The chairmanship shall be agreed upon before the resumption of work
  • The status quo ante shall be respected by everyone involved in this situation

The Union says once these conditions are met, the strike will be called off.

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