Teachers’ Union prepared for extended strike, legal action to defend teachers – GTU President
Teachers on Monday continued their protest outside the Ministry of Education at Brickdam, Georgetown, and President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), Mark Lyte, expressed readiness to extend the strike action until their demands are met.
Scores of teachers engaged in the industrial action for higher salaries protested outside the ministry building for the sixth day. Though not all teachers are active on the streets, minimal teaching was ongoing in schools across the country and Lyte told reporters that this “standstill” will continue.
“The whole country is at a standstill because we are seeing schools are not operating as they should, you drive down the road and you are not even seeing children the entire country is affected and if the government does care about the future of our generation they will adjust the concerns of our teachers,” Lyte told reporters.
The Ministry of Education and the GTU have been engaging since 2020 on a proposed Multi-Year Agreement that includes salary increases. The GTU believes talks have broken down and the process should move to arbitration but the Education Ministry and the Labour Ministry maintain that talks are still ongoing and the strike is illegal.
The Education Ministry issued a statement informing striking teachers that their salaries will be deducted for unauthorized absence from the classroom.
These actions, Lyte said, will be legally challenged. The union also plans to challenge the government’s decision to discontinue the deduction of union dues.
“You can’t just wake up and decide that you are not deducting and if you are doing that for the GTU you have to do it for all the other unions and bodies where the teachers have authorized you, they have instructed you to deduct the money, it’s not the government money it’s the teacher’s money,” Lyte said.
He further explained that legal advice was sought and that the union’s lawyers were going to take action on the union’s behalf.
“No one has reached out to us and we have been saying we are ready to speak…we have explored our legal actions and our lawyers have advised us well so there are legal reports that are being taken right now.
“The law requires that unions are engaged in collective bargaining and right there, there is a breach of the constitution by the government,” he said.