From day one, GTU was aware teachers’ salaries would be deducted for illegal strike
The Ministries of Education and Local Government on Monday issued an official notice of intent to deduct money from the salaries of thousands of teachers who are on strike, a move that the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) was aware could happen.
GTU’s General Secretary Coretta McDonald, appearing on the picket line in front of the Ministry of Education on the first day of the strike, was questioned about the possible deductions of teachers’ salaries.
“Let me say to them, that’s good news for us because corporate sponsors out there have already pledged to us that they will reimburse our teachers so go ahead, deduct the teacher’s money but you know you’re going to be doing there? You are going to be instilling even more radicalism in our teachers when you deduct their money,” McDonald said.
The Ministry of Education and the GTU have been engaging since 2020 on a proposed multi-year agreement that demands salary increases and duty-free concessions, among other things. 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.
Since last Monday, February 05, some teachers have been on strike. Because the government deemed this an illegal strike, the notice of intent was issued.
The notice indicated that lists were submitted from all 11 education districts stating 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.
This means that the teachers on strike would not be paid for the days they were absent. The deductions would be reflected in their March 2024 salaries.
Further, those teachers who have been absent for more than three days can be recommended to the Teaching Service Commission for dismissal.
The GTU has since issued a statement, calling the move “undemocratic” and promising to challenge it in Court. The Union’s President Mark Lyte on Monday said the Union is ready to extend the strike until their demands are met.
The Union was reportedly aware that these sanctions were possible.