Education Minister, Nicolette Henry has indicated that the Government will be making a revised offer to Teachers, with a hope of ending the countrywide strike action.
With a meeting slated for Thursday between the Ministry and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), Henry is hoping that “we will have an opportunity at that meeting to present what would be the revised position from both parties.”
The Ministry of Social Protection’s Department of Labour has invited both sides to another round of conciliation talks at 13:30hrs and the Education Minister is urging the Union to participate.
In a recorded interview shared with the News Room, the Education Minister said there can be two outcomes from that meeting, both of which could result in the calling off of the strike action which has disrupted schools across the country.
She said that the GTU could accept the Government’s new offer and on the other hand, they could reject it and then both parties head into arbitration.
“If you agree then essentially the strike is over. If you disagree and move to arbitration, then too the strike is over because you had indicated if we go to arbitration you’d call off the strike,” the Education Minister reminded.
Henry posited that it would be up to the conciliator (Labour Department) to recommend that the process of conciliation has been exhausted after tomorrow’s meeting. Such a decision, she said, would be “prudent.”
Meanwhile, the Minister did not give details about what the Government’s “revised position” is but the Ministry of Finance was mandated by President David Granger to transfer funds from other Government Agencies to augment its initial offer to the teachers.
“So tomorrow’s meeting seems to hold a lot of promise,” Henry expressed.
The Education Ministry had proposed a $700M ballpark figure to pay teachers following initial negotiations with the union. However, President of the GTU, Mark Lyte told the media that this amount, when divided to give to each teacher, will only amount to $5,000 per teacher.
The GTU has since indicated that it is prepared to accept at least 15% across the board increase for 2016 and a subsequent 5% incremental hike in teachers’ salaries.
An estimated 34 schools across the country were completely shut and scores of students returned home in light of the nationwide strike.