By Bibi Khatoon
After a meeting, which lasted for six and a half hours, officials of the Education Ministry and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) emerged with an agreement Friday afternoon.
While the binding document will be signed next week, the agreement not only called off a planned strike action by the union but also dismantled the arbitration process in which the Union had expressed no-confidence.
“Where 2016 is concerned, we finalized a 12% [for juniors] and 8% [for seniors] respectively, and for 2018 we’re at 8%,” Education Minister Nicolette Henry told reporters outside of her Lot 26, Brickdam, Georgetown office following Friday’s meeting.
She explained that teachers who received 10% salary increase in 2016 will have that deducted from the 12%. The increase in 2016 was given as a “preliminary” payment pending the outcome of the negotiations.
The payments, based on the increases now agreed to, will be made in December 2018 and January 2019.
There will also be the implementation of Special and non-salary benefits.
President of the Union, Mark Lyte told the News Room that the Union opted to forfeit 2017 as a compromise since the increases in 2016 will give a ripple effect to 2017.
He expressed satisfaction that the two sides were able to broker an agreement.
This “will bring a lot of satisfaction to our members.
“And I think that was the ultimate objective of this whole process – to ensure that every teacher benefits significantly and that has been achieved,” Lyte explained.
The Union had initially asked for a 40% increase but the Government had said it cannot afford the request. As such, teachers mounted protests across the country calling for the matter to go to arbitration, which the Ministry eventually agreed to.
This process was, however, stalled since the union rejected Professor Leyland Lucas appointed by the Ministry of Labour to lead the panel.
Following an announcement last week that the GTU will be calling a second protest action –this time with the support from the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), President David Granger intervened on Monday. There, a proposal was made of 10% and 8% for 2016.
The Union then went to its membership where Lyte said: “We had a typical idea what would be accepted by our members so coming back today was a lot easier for us to deal with what was put on the table.”
Additionally, the two sides agreed to a figure of $350M proposed for debunching. As a result, the Teachers will be placed into scales from 2019.