Before strike is called off, GTU wants formal invitation to meet with Education Ministry


Friday marks the end of the planned two-week strike by teachers but with no engagement with the Ministry of Education since the industrial action commenced on February 05, the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) has indicated that the daily protest will continue indefinitely or until such engagements occur.

On Thursday, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said the Ministry of Education is responsible for all engagements with the GTU but the union’s President Mark Lyte claimed that letters were sent to the ministry after the strike commenced, asking for a meeting where the government can put forward it its counter-proposal to a multi-year agreement the union proposed in 2020.

“We wrote [in the early days of the strike] saying we are ready to end the strike and have dialogue providing that the government comes to the table specific to our financial matters,” Lyte said in a Facebook live Friday morning.

He said the union will not accept verbal and indirect invitations in the press.

“If we write you, it is your obligation and duty to write us in return. We are not going to accept a verbal invitation to any meeting. We would like you to invite us formally to a meaningful meeting where we can agree to the terms of resumption.

“This strike doesn’t need to go on further if government does the right thing, pay our teachers, and engage in collective bargaining,” Lyte added.

Reasoning that the government should have extended an olive branch, Lyte said that had the Ministry of Education engaged the teachers on the first day of the strike, it would have been called off.

“What we have is a situation where the government has decided to stand off, whether it is a position of pride or a position of arrogance, you be the judge.

“There should have been an olive branch extended on the part of government… there has to be an olive branch and we have to ask ourselves when will the standoff end.

“This strike should not have gone on for more than one day,” Lyte said but vowed that “this strike will go on as long as the government refuses to engage the union.”

Some of the teachers during the protest. (Photo: News Room/ February 12, 2024)

As a show of strength and unity, Lyte said large numbers of teachers are expected to take to the streets on Friday even as he called on parents to come out and support the teachers.

“We will be outside today, day number 10 and we hope that good sense will prevail and the PS [Permanent Secretary] will write the union inviting us to attend a meaningful dialogue as it relates to the terms of resumptions and also timelines for discussions on the financial benefits for our teachers,” Lyte said as he insisted on collective bargaining.

“We are not buying the saying that there is no money to pay wages and salaries… this is the biggest budget… we are not buying that, not at all.”

The GTU President also sought to enlist the support of the private sector. “The Private Sector is vocal on a lot of areas. It is time that the Chair of the Private Sector engage the government to let good sense prevail,” he added.

Several government officials including President Irfaan Ali, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, and Attorney General Anil Nandlall have all said over the last two weeks that they are willing to engage with teachers.

“We want to work with the unions but we will not do so in bad faith, under duress, under any form of undue influence…we want to bargain fairly and that is what the law provides for and we are not in any way reeling from that obligation,” Nandlall said on Tuesday.

The AG claimed that it is the Teacher’s Union that is not engaging by established protocols.

However, the credibility of the union has come into sharp focus with the strike being deemed a political one.

The union has failed to file audited statements with the Auditor General and they have also failed to make submissions to the Deeds and Commercial Registry for more than a decade, which means it can be struck off the register for trade unions.

Additionally, the daily protests are supported by members of the political opposition with Opposition Parliamentarian Coretta McDonald holding the position as GTU General Secretary when the rule book of the union prohibits it.

1 Comment
  1. Matthew says

    This is a reasonable request and should be accompanied with a statement renouncing political affiliation….

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