The Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) has confirmed that over 4,000 teachers on Monday joined in the strike action calling for increased salaries.
According to General Secretary, Coretta McDonald, there were 1,000 teachers on strike in Linden, Region Ten.
This was followed by 700 in Georgetown, 235 in Region Five, 70 in Kwakwani, 75 in Bartica, 100 in Lethem, 400 in Region Three, 300 on the East Coast of Demerara and 150 on the Essequibo coast.
The GTU official said that numbers at the time were not received from Mabaruma, Port Kaituma and Moruca in Region One and Aishalton and Annai in Region Nine.
Teachers across the country decked out in their uniforms on Monday but instead of turning up for the first day of the new school term, they took to the streets to express their displeasure with the Government’s position on salary increases.
The Union representatives said they will continue strike action until the Government offers them a ‘livable’ wage. In fact, they are demanding that a percentage increase should be given across the board but this should not be below 10%.
“If the Government decides to call us now, and they make a reasonable offer, we will return to schools,” McDonald said to the loud applause of teachers at the GTU Headquarters on Woolford Avenue, Georgetown.
The Teachers were invited to the Union’s office following a protest in front of the Ministry of Education’s 26 Brickdam Office.
“Let this cause be a cause that we will stand up for…If teachers give in, in this fight, we are doomed forever,” President of the Union, Mark Lyte said.
Teachers outlined the difficulties encountered with living on the salaries.
They noted that the cost of living is continually increasing while they are also purchasing the majority of the classroom supplies with their salaries.
“You want child-friendly classrooms but these child-friendly classrooms come out of our pockets,” Stacy Benjamin, a Teacher of Lodge Secondary School told reporters.
The Education Ministry’s contingency plan includes hiring retired and trainee teachers to take up the abandoned classrooms but a visit to some schools in Georgetown on Monday did not see many of the substitute teachers. Instead, the Ministry’s monitors were at the location taking stock of the attendance.
Education Minister, Nicolette Henry has invited the media to a press briefing on Monday night to address the issue.