Optimism as govt, teachers seek solutions 


Four weeks after some teachers abandoned their classrooms to strike and mounted daily protests across the country, officials of the Guyana Teachers’ Union and the Ministry of Education, accompanied by their attorneys, met for mediation talks at the High Court on Friday.

But as those talks were ongoing, less than a mile away, protests with lively drumming and chanting continued outside the Ministry of Education’s Brickdam, Georgetown office.

The government on Thursday responded in the affirmative to the Order of Justice Sandil Kissoon appointing mediators to end the strike action by teachers and respond to their demands for, among other things, salary increases.

Maintaining that the GTU had abandoned healthy discussions, the government said the intervention by the court was not necessary but committed to participating in a bid to have teachers return to the classrooms.

And so, as the talks kicked off Friday morning, optimism was high on both sides that the month long strike would be called off.

With Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, out of the country on official government business, attorney Darshan Ramdhani, KC, is representing the State.

He cautioned the GTU to be reasonable in its requests if they are serious about resuming discussions with the government.

attorney Darshan Ramdhani, KC

“We are always reasonable and we hope reasonable requests will be met,” he told reporters at noon during a lunch break.

Attorney for the GTU Darren Wade explained that during the morning session, the Union made its proposal and will return in the afternoon for the state to make its counter proposal.

He refused to provide details on the proposal put forward by the GTU during the first session of mediation.

“Let us give the government attorney an opportunity to speak with those in authority.

“When return this afternoon… I am very optimistic… I know Mr Ramdhani has the capacity to speak to those in authority to come to a resolution,” Wade said.

GTU attorney Darren Wade along with GTU President Mark Lyte and other officials at the High Court.

Ramdhani regarded the first session as “fruitful.”

“It is good the union is ready now to engage the government again and I hope official talks can resume.

“We come back at two to have more discussion… the mediators are doing a good job so far,” he added.

Ramdhani could not say when mediation will end but hopes it will be soon so that teachers can return to the classrooms.

“The government’s main priority is to get teachers back in school.

“Let the mediation process take its course when that has come to an end we will speak to all matters,” Ramdhani added.

In a statement Thursday night, the government said the last of engagements between the Ministry of Education and Guyana Teachers’ Union took place on 31st January 2024.

“That meeting was cordial, courteous and constructive,” the government stated, noting that at least five 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.”


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