As teachers’ strike persist in bad faith, Gov’t halts deduction of union dues with immediate effect 


The Ministry of Education continues to condemn the ongoing strike by some teachers across the country in a bid to pressure the government into higher salary increases and duty-free concessions, among other entitlements.

As the strike enters day two with a dwindling number of educators participating, the ministry in a letter to the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), dated February 06, 2024, reiterated that the current strike is unlawful and inimical to the welfare of students, teachers, and the public interest.

In a statement at the close of Monday, the Education Ministry said that through its statistical analysis, most teachers turned out for work on the first day of the strike.

The protests witnessed across the country on Monday outside various government buildings were not visible on Tuesday but the strike continued with a small number of teachers either not showing up to work or others present in their classrooms but refusing to teach.

“…The Government of Guyana and the Union had already come to an agreement on most of the demands made by the Union. It is therefore excruciatingly clear that this strike is an expression of bad faith driven by interests other than the welfare and conditions of teachers,” the ministry’s statement noted.

Additionally, the government feels the unlawful industrial action has become wholly politicized with Opposition Parliamentarians and operatives including GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonald leading the strike.

The ministry said too that threats against those teachers who refuse to participate are likewise unlawful and will not be tolerated.

And so, the government is taking action that extends beyond a condemnation of the strike.

Currently, the government acts as an agent for the GTU by deducting from the wages and salaries of teachers, union dues and remitting same to the Union.

“In light of your aforesaid conduct the Government of Guyana can no longer provide this agency service,” the letter to the GTU President Mark Lyte noted.

The letter cited the case of the Guyana Public Service Union v Nanda Gopaul (number 584W/2000-Demerara), where Chief Justice, the late lan Chang delivered a judgement that instructed that “in respect of the deduction of union dues in particular, the G.0.G was merely acting as the agent of the union for the purpose of withholding and remitting such dues to the union.”

“In the circumstances with immediate effect, the Government of Guyana shall cease to perform the functions of an agent of the Union and will no longer deduct union dues from the wages and salaries of teachers and remit same to the Union. We recommend you make alternative arrangements,” the letter, written by the Permanent Secretary noted.

The government reminded, that in keeping with the ruling, the withdrawal of such agency service does not mean that such dues are not collectable. It merely means that like the G.PS.U, the GTU will now be tasked with collecting such union dues itself.

On Monday, McDonald said she has a corporate sponsor to reimburse striking teachers if their salaries are deducted.

The GTU called the strike even though the process of negotiations on teachers’ conditions and benefits had not been exhausted. Strike action is usually taken when talks break down.

As a result, the government has said the strike is illegal and they run the risk of losing salaries for up to three days of striking and possible recommendation for termination of service to the Teaching Service Commission for more than three days of strike.

McDonald, appearing on the picket line in front of the Ministry of Education Monday said if the salaries of teachers are deducted, then that will be “good news” because “corporate sponsors out there have already pledged that they will reimburse our teachers.”

She did not say who the sponsors are, how much was pledged to her, or what mechanism would be put in place to distribute the money that was promised.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.