After a week of strike action from some teachers across the country, President Dr. Irfaan Ali posited that the government will create the region’s “best welfare package” for these workers but he urged them to be patient.
The President addressed the teachers’ strike at Friday’s commissioning ceremony of the new Guyana Technical Training College Inc at Port Mourant, Region Six (East Berbice- Corentyne).
“I explained that we are going to work in an incremental way to ensure that you [teachers] have the best welfare package,” the President said.
He later added, “You don’t need to ‘down tools’ because you are pushing at open doors. You have to have patience.”
As he reiterated promises made last year, the President said the People’s Progressive Civic Party (PPP/C) has always stood on the side of workers and has committed itself to evaluating the benefits all workers – not just teachers – enjoy by the end of this year.
He, however, cautioned persons against spiking their expectations now in light of revenues flowing from Guyana’s nascent oil and gas sector.
According to him, the revenues now are a mere fraction of what the country expects by 2027. At that point, Guyana should be producing over one million barrels of oil daily.
“I am saying to you, as your President, it will get continuously better and get better in a short to medium term,” Dr. Ali added.
The President did not hesitate to voice his views on the politicisation of the industrial action now. According to him, teachers are being used as “political pawns.”
Members of his cabinet have expressed similar sentiments, noting that the industrial action is illegal since the talks between the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) and the Ministry of Education have not broken down.
These talks are part of a multi-year agreement the union proposed to the Education Ministry in 2020; salary increases are a major focus.