Gov’t issues official notice of intent to deduct salaries of striking teachers
An official notice of intent to deduct from the salaries of thousands of teachers who were on strike over the last week was issued on Monday.
In the letter signed by the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Education and Local Government, it was noted that lists were submitted from all 11 education districts indicating the names of those teachers who did not report for duty and did not receive the necessary leave and or permission to be absent.
“This unauthorized absence constitutes a breach of their conditions of service and their statutory duties and attracts legal sanctions,” the notice read.
And so, the teachers will not be paid for the days they were absent. The deductions will be
reflected in their March 2024 salaries.
The GTU has since issued a statement, calling the move “undemocratic” and promising to challenge it in Court.
But beyond that, with the strike now in day six, those teachers who have been absent for more than three days can be recommended to the Teaching Service Commission for dismissal.
Though the numbers have reduced significantly since the strike action started last Monday (February 5), some teachers continued to strike on Monday, February 12.
With an initial two weeks’ notice, some teachers have signalled an intention to continue the strike until they are able to broker talks with the government for a counter proposal to a multi-year agreement the union proposed in 2020.
The government, which has since halted the collection of union dues from teachers’ salaries in response to the illegal strike, maintains that the industrial action, in fact, political. The government outlined a number of areas where many of the GTU’s recommendations have already been implemented.
Meanwhile, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo maintains that the executives of the GTU must first account for their finances before they make demands of the government.
According to Jagdeo, the last audited statement submitted to the Auditor General was in 1989, a breach of the constitution of the GTU. Additionally, the GTU is required to submit financial statements, audited or not, to the Registrar. The last time this was done was in 2004.
As a result, he posited that the GTU could be struck off from the register of trade unions because of these lapses.
And so, because of this level of unaccountability, the Vice President said the GTU will no longer be allowed to administer the duty free concessions scheme, where 100 concessions for vehicles are granted to senior educators annually.
Additionally, the government has halted immediately the deduction of union dues from the salaries of teachers.
Jagdeo noted that the union leadership must say where they will get money to reimburse teachers after the government deducts money from their salaries for being absent from the classrooms.