Talks Collapse: Teachers’ Union going back to the Court


Shortly after officials from the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) and the Education Ministry met on Tuesday for a second round of talks after a brief period of mediation, the Union’s President Mark Lyte announced that those talks have collapsed.

The talks fell apart, he said, because the government does not want to negotiate salary increases for the 2019 to 2023 payment period. Only increases for 2024, Lyte said, were up for discussion.

But he insisted that minutes of last Thursday’s meeting indicate that the government, through the Chief Education Officer and Chief Negotiator, Saddam Hussain agreed to discuss the increases for this period.

The Ministry of Education, in a press release, accused the Union of abandoning the talks and “walking out of the meeting.”

It said: “The meeting was chaired by (Permanent Secretary of the Education Ministry) Shannielle Hoosein-Outar who upheld the Government’s position that discussions surrounding salary increases should be from 2024 onwards.

Officials from the Minsitry of Education and Guyana Teachers’ Union in talks (Photo: Ministry of Education/ March 12, 2024)

She explained that increases for the prior years would have financial implications, and that the 2024 budget does not have the fiscal space to accommodate the retroactive payment of salaries for teachers during the period 2019 – 2023.

“Mrs. Hoosein-Outar asked the Union’s representatives to submit to the Ministry a proposal which would capture their request for a multiyear agreement commencing 2024.”

But the union maintains that in the 2019-2023 proposal, some of the other items up for discussion were salary matters, the 2% difference in salary for 2017 and 2018, a clothing allowance increase, and paying Whitley Council every three years.

The Education Ministry, however, noted that it was keen on addressing other matters and not just the salary increases. It said these other matters were identified by both sides for discussion.

When Hoosein-Outar allegedly insisted on only discussion increases for 2024, union reps left and appeared at a press conference soon after to explain their position.

There, Lyte said the Union will now explore what else it can do.

“…we have decided that our members are going to utilise the means that is possible to show the administration that we will not be bullied in any negotiation or discussion.

“… we are going to take this matter back to the court for the court to adjudicate on the matter,’ Lyte said, noting that the Union is currently consulting with its legal representatives to determine what actions are now needed.

Asked if teachers could return to strike action, Lyte responded in the affirmative. He, however, noted that future strike action rests on what directives are handed down from the courts.

Through a mediation process ordered by High Court Judge Sandil Kissoon earlier in March, the Government and the GTU came to a mutual agreement for striking teachers to return to their classrooms on or before Wednesday, March 06.

This meant that the nationwide industrial strike which commenced on February 05, 2024 was called off as it entered its fifth week.

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