UNDER pressure from teachers, the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) on Tuesday announced that it is ready to dig into its coffers to provide strike relief to its members who join the union’s strike action which commenced on Monday, and is expected to last until the Government agrees to negotiate with the union.
GTU believes that the teachers will support the strike action and although the union does not expect 100 per cent support, it is ready to financially compensate those who choose the route of industrial action.
“We will have to do an evaluation to see how many persons have joined the strike action…based on the amount, we would be able decide if we could offer teachers at least 50 per cent of their salaries or give them full compensation,” said President of the GTU, Mark Lyte during a press conference at the GTU on Tuesday.
He believes that based on its financial position, the GTU would be able to sustain the payment of strike relief for a “fairly long time,” despite there being just about 10,000 teachers in the public sector. In order to solicit the support of the teachers, the union has also agreed to write lending institutions and stores, requesting leniency for teachers who choose to be a part of the industrial action. The industrial action comes after the parties failed to arrive at a consensus primarily on the government’s proposed $700M to facilitate salary increases and $200 million to address de-bunching for 2018.
Lyte said the proposed figure from the government would not be sustainable or acceptable, since it would amount to an increase by GY$5,000 per teacher for one year. The GTU instead proposed an across-the-board increase in salary of 40 per cent for 2016 and incremental increases of five per cent in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively, to be granted to all categories of teachers and teacher educators. Although the GTU and the government engaged in follow-up deliberations on the matter, the union had refused to budge from its proposal. Lyte, however, contended that 40 per cent is not the union’s final decision and they, instead, would be willing to negotiate downwards.