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Stop ‘pussyfooting’ on teachers’ salary increases

first_imgGovt urged to– GTU still awaits word on suggested 40 percent increase for teachersBy Samuel SukhnandanTeachers have, for almost one and a half years, been waiting on Government to finalise with the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) an agreement in regard to increases in salaries and other benefits; and they are still waiting.The last multi-year agreement between the Ministry of Education (MoE) and theGeneral Secretary of GTU, Coretta McDonaldGuyana Teachers Union (GTU) came to an end in 2015, and the GTU has since been working to finalise a new agreement.GTU General Secretary, Coretta McDonald, told Guyana Times on Sunday that the MoE informed the union recently that it is still trying to narrow down its counterproposal. The GTU had submitted its proposal since December 2015, with the hope that negotiations would have commenced early and a new agreement would have been completed before mid-2016.“We were hoping that in 2016 we would have already been finished with this, so teachers could begin to enjoy the other benefits apart from salary increases. However, whenever that agreement is signed, it will have to be retroactive to 2015, because it’s a multi-year agreement (2016-2020),” she explained.McDonald said a reshuffle of permanent secretaries at the MoE might have been one reason why Government has not been able to meet the GTU at the bargaining table. She said negotiations had begun with former MoE Permanent Secretary Delma Nedd, during which only nonfinancial matters of the proposal had been examined. Nedd was later replaced by Vibert Welch, the former Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, who assumed the duties of PS at the MoE earlier this year.“…and we thought it was fair to give him the opportunity to look at the document. We are hoping that sometime soon we will be able to have a counter proposal coming from the Ministry of Education; and it’s from that level that the GTU would be able to start negotiations,” McDonald explained.Although ready to excuse the MoE’s delay in regard to resuming negotiations, McDonald has described the situation as “disgusting”, and has said negotiations should immediately be resumed because teachers’ across the country are impatiently awaiting word on what they are likely to receive in the new five-year agreement.“You cannot have teachers uncomfortable, or uneasy, or not knowing what they are about, and expect them to give of their best. And so, based on what we are seeing coming out of the proposal that we submitted, whatever is submitted to us as a counterproposal would be favourable to teachers.”Forty per centThe GTU has also proposed a 40 per cent across-the-board salary increase for all public school teachers. It must be noted, however, that in the previous agreement, the GTU had managed to get for teachers’ countrywide only a five per cent salary increase over the course of five years.McDonald explained that the GTU would like to see the salaries of all categories of teachers increased by 45 per cent in 2017 and by 50 per cent for the following three years (2018-2020). She explained that the GTU had arrived at these figures after considering inflation.“We don’t expect the Government to give us everything we ask for, and that is why we have negotiations. But if they come lower than that, we will have to sit and talk at the table,” she declared.Although negotiations in the above regard had not been fruitful with the previous Government, McDonald told Guyana Times, the GTU is hoping that negotiations with this current administration would see teachers being placed in scales which will reflect the results of the debunching, in keeping with Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) governing the period 2011-2015.This would mean that teachers with advanced levels of training would be placed on a scale that is different from those of recently graduated teachers.Importantly, also, the GTU has proposed that the payment of sums of money in regard to debunching be retroactive to 2011, when the previous MoU was inked. And if the MoU is approved, teachers would also benefit from monthly emotional, stress, risk and maintenance allowances.McDonald said the extensive proposal also entails benefits for teachers serving in hinterland communities, and addresses the need for scholarships and other non-salary issues.But apart from that, the union is also advocating for an additional performance-based incentive of three per cent per annum of the total teachers’ wage bill, and for teachers being eligible for double salaries in the month of December each year.last_img read more