‘Exactly what I have been saying’ – President Ali welcomes resumption of talks with teachers


President Irfaan Ali welcomed Monday’s agreement between the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) and the Ministry of Education that brought an end to the strike that has persisted for five weeks.

Dr. Ali and other members of his government had repeatedly urged teachers to end the strike and return to the discussions that union representatives abandoned for daily street protests in demanding, among other things, higher salaries.

“Exactly what I have been saying all along, no different! Return to work and allow the process that was ongoing to continue,” Dr. Ali said in a Facebook book after it was announced that the mediation process ordered by High Court Judge Sandil Kissoon had concluded with an agreement that striking teachers would return to their classrooms on or before Wednesday, March 06.

“Why was this so difficult? The same request the Ministry of Education and Government have been making continuously. As a responsible Government, we will continue to work in the interest of all workers,” Dr. Ali added.

Dr. Ali’s most recent appeal came at the weekend.

Speaking during a live broadcast on Saturday, the president said that since assuming office, the government has had more than 25 meetings with the GTU.

“In these meetings with the union, 30 out of the 41 requests made by the union were fulfilled. Apart from the 30, 28 additional non-requested benefits were implemented by the government and the Ministry of Education,” he pointed out.

Additionally, last year, the Head of State directly engaged with teachers from the 10 administrative regions. This engagement gave teachers the platform to discuss the state of the education system and address challenges faced.

In the agreement signed by both parties, it was noted that in addition to teachers returning to the classrooms, the government [Ministry of Education] and the union will meet for discussions on all matters within 48 hours.

“Discussions shall proceed within 48 hours of resumption of work and shall be in relation to those matters which either party considers relevant for discussion between the union and the Government, which includes financial matters,” the document states.

The discussions are to take place at the Ministry of Education, Brickdam office and shall continue for “a reasonable period of time”, the document added.

Senior Counsel Edward Luckhoo and Robin Stoby served as mediators in the process that commenced last Friday and after two meetings, the agreement was reached.

“The Government of Guyana represents that it continues to assure and reiterate its position that it will continue to act in good faith and in accordance with the laws of Guyana in relation to all matters under discussions,” the document noted.

“The Guyana Teachers’ Union represents that it has always engaged the Government and will continue to negotiate in good faith for the welfare of the teachers,” it added.


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