first_imgTeachers’ wages impasseAlmost two weeks after the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) and the Education Ministry made a commitment to sign the agreement to end the teachers’ salary impasse, there is still a high level of uncertainty.GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonaldGeneral Secretary of the GTU, Coretta Mc Donald told Guyana Times on Tuesday that discussions are still ongoing on the new proposal made by the Government.“As it is right now, the offers that are on the table, some of them have been favourable, some have not been favourable and there are still talks ongoing right now,” she said.The GTU official said the fact that the agreement has not yet been signed, indicates that there is still some tallying up to be done and the GTU is prepared to get the best possible deal.McDonald noted also that arbitration has not been ruled out and there is no definitive plan as to what would be the next move, only to scrutinise the offer.“We are hoping that maybe by the end of this week, we are going to have those little bits and pieces tidied up and the two parties would have a clear understanding of what exactly the document entails so going forward after signatures would have been placed there, nobody would want to cry foul,” Mc Donald explained.She said there were some issues that needed clarification, some of which have not yet been settled. Once that is resolved, an agreement could be inked.DisappointmentHowever, she stated her disappointment with the fact that the GTU should have done more work to get a better outcome. She feels that had the Union prolonged the discussions, the figures being mentioned now would not have been on the table.Following a six-hour long discussion between the two parties, the GTU agreed to a 12 per cent increase for 2016 and eight per cent increase for 2018. “The agreement has not yet been signed so the possibility exists that changes could happen,” she added.A 40 per cent salary increase for public school teachers was initially proposed for the year 2016. For the year 2017, the Union was hoping to have bargained for a 45 per cent increase, which would then increase to 50 per cent for the remainder of the years indicated in the agreement (2018-2020).It recently changed its demands and said it was willing to accept a ‘substantial’ payout from the Government.InfightingMc Donald has debunked claims that there is an infighting within the executive of the GTU, particularly her and the GTU President Mark Lyte. She said people have set out to paint a bad picture of her, saying that she is a supporter of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and taking directives from former President Bharrat Jagdeo, and Lyte being a supporter of the Government. She said they have been in agreement with most of what has been discussed so far.“The only difference between Coretta McDonald and Mark Lyte is that Mark Lyte is very soft-spoken and Mc Donald is very aggressive. We don’t have time to be bothered by that…. that cartoon of that same situation being peddled which appears in a newspaper maybe was intended to sow a seed of discord among the ranks of the GTU and members. They have not succeeded.”Mc Donald who was addressing teachers during the period that saw them on strike had said the nation’s educators had received more under the PPP Administration than what they currently get under this coalition Administration.“If we look at what transpired under the PPP Government when they were in power and what is transpiring now… remember we didn’t want the five per cent. We made noise about it. But with the five per cent we got a whole lot of non-salary benefits,” she said, to loud applause from the large gathering of teachers.She continued, “For the first time in the history of this country, our teachers were able to get clothing allowance, duty free concessions, and allowances for additional qualifications. While the PPP Government was in power — and you know I don’t want to sound political, but we have to make the comparison because of all the untruths they peddling out there…”But the GTU General Secretary argued that while her points are valid, the Constitution provides the right for individuals to have freedom of association.“If you check what has been happening in the trade union movement, every time you stand up against the Government of the day you are being identified with the Opposite. When are we going to get to the issue before us? And the issue before us is better working conditions and improved salaries for teacher said that is all we have been fighting for.”last_img

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