The Ministry of Social Protection is holding out that the process of conciliation must be exhausted before the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers’ Union commence arbitration.
“The Ministry of Social Protection maintained that the grievance procedures as contained in the Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) subsisting between the Parties provides for the exhaustion of Conciliation before Arbitration can be contemplated,” the Ministry noted in a statement.
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.
The Ministry’s Department of Labour initiated conciliation following the strike announcement by the GTU.
The Union and the Ministry of Education Wednesday participated in the first rounds of talk where the GTU made a proposal to skip conciliation and head to arbitration in exchange for them calling off the countrywide industrial action.
The Union is contending that the Labour Department cannot lead the conciliatory talks because its representatives were initially urging the teachers to accept government’s offer on salary increases.
But the Ministry of Social Protection, headed by Minister Amna Ally, has asserted that by participating in the meeting, the Union accepted conciliation.
“At the meeting the GTU maintained that it could not proceed to participate in the Conciliation talks under the Ministry of Social Protection because its Officials were involved at the earlier bilateral level. Yet they participated in a conciliatory meeting which therefore negated their contention,” the statement outlined.
However, it pointed out that the strike action will need to be called off in order for the parties to make any progress at conciliation.
“…before any progress could be made at conciliation, the current strike action initiated by the Union must be called off after a Memorandum containing Terms of Resumption has been signed by the Parties,” the Ministry posited.
Expressing that it is “unfortunate” that the GTU did not find comfort with conciliation, the Ministry said the two parties will be meeting again at a “time and date to be determined shortly”.
GTU President, Mark Lyte told reporters after the meeting that the Union’s position is clear and that the Ministry of Education’s decision will determine the way forward.
He said the teachers are prepared to end the strike only if the Ministry of Education agrees to their terms for arbitration.