Gov’t to participate in mediation process with Teachers’ Union


See below full statement from the Government of Guyana: 

The Government of Guyana notes the Order of the Honourable Mr. Justice Sandil Kissoon, appointing mediators to the ongoing strike action of the Guyana Teachers’ Union, and the implications such an Order may have as a precedent on industrial relations in the country, more specifically, the settled and well-established legal mechanisms and recourses currently extant for the resolution of those types of disputes, including the Dispute Settlement Agreement between the parties and the procedures set out in the Labour Act, Chap. 98:01. Similar processes have been invoked and employed with success in Guyana, the Caribbean, and indeed, the entire Commonwealth.

The Government wishes to make it abundantly clear that the Ministry of Education has had a long and settled practice of meeting with the Guyana Teachers’ Union on an almost monthly basis, since 11th August 2020. At these meetings, multiple issues relating to the welfare of teachers and the better and more efficient administration of the education sector have been addressed. These include both salaries and non-salary issues and benefits. Attached to this statement is a list of some of the measures and decisions which resulted from this process.

Additionally, and apart from these engagements, the Ministry of Education has implemented another wave of measures and decisions which ensue to the benefit of teachers. These measures were unsolicited by the Union and implemented upon the Government’s initiative over the past four (4) years. Attached is a list of these measures.

The last of these engagements between the Ministry of Education and Guyana Teachers’ Union took place on 31st January 2024. That meeting was cordial, courteous and constructive. At the meeting, at least 5 salary-related issues that were on the agenda were addressed. The meeting was adjourned to 21st February 2024 for the parties to continue to engage on those and other issues. At the end of the meeting, there was no evidence whatsoever of any rancour, discord or disagreement between the parties. As a result, the Government was understandably shocked when the Union, a few days after, announced its intention to resort to strike action. The Government wishes to emphasise that at all times, it was and remains, ready and prepared to resume those engagements.

While the Government does not think that judicial intervention was necessary, having regard to the established industrial practices referred to above, the Government will participate in the process with the firm expectation that it will put teachers back into the classrooms, as the Government’s paramount concern always is, and will remain, the best interests and welfare of the Nation’s students.

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