GTU, Gov’t talks still at stalemate; new proposals made

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Though both parties are committed to have the ongoing countrywide strike by some teachers concluded at the soonest, talks between the Government and members of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) are still at a stalemate.

Officials from the Ministry of Education and the GTU on Monday met once again for talks spearheaded by Chief Labour Officer Dhaneshwar Deonarine.

There was a three-hour discussion but no progress was made.

“We are still at a stalemate with regards to agreeing on the terms of resumption. I would say we have not made any progress,” GTU President Mark Lyte told reporters following the meeting.

However, Lyte said some new proposals including a “tighter” timeline for the conclusion of the proposals talks were made.

“There are some other considerations that were put forward that they can consider. One of which is looking at a tight timeline for the conclusion of the proposal talks.

Officials from the Ministry of Education and the GTU on Monday met once again for talks spearheaded by Chief Labour Officer Dhaneshwar Deonarine (Photos: Ministry of Labour/June 10, 2024)

“I think both parties have given some indication that we want to have this matter concluded and therefore positions were shifted on both sides with regards to how we can achieve that,” Lyte said.

For this, Lyte said the union is suggesting a 30-day period.

However, before a decision was taken, he said both parties have committed to discuss with their principals and members.

The union is awaiting a feedback from the Chief Labour Officer about the next meeting.

An initial five-week strike began on February 5, with teachers demanding higher salary increases and duty-free concessions, among other benefits.

After a court-mediated process in March, talks between the Education Ministry and GTU resumed.

However, discussions were halted when the Education Ministry indicated that there was no fiscal space to cater for increases for the period 2019 -2023.

Lyte yesterday indicated that the union has flexed and is now looking at increased for the years 2022 to 2023. The position, he said is the final one which will be maintained by the union.

“We are not at a stage where we talking about the years. I think the terms of resumption is critical and we are concerned about the interim payout and how we flesh out the timeline for the discussion,” Lyte said.

On April 19, a court ruling by Judge Sandil Kissoon stated that teachers’ salaries should not be reduced because of their involvement in the previous five-week strike organised by the GTU.

The government has moved to appeal the ruling.

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