MINISTER of Education Nicolette Henry has hinted that today’s conciliation talks with her ministry, the Guyana Teacher’s Union and the Ministry of Social Protection could very well be the last one if progress is not made and she hinted that government might be willing to move on to arbitration.
Union leaders on Wednesday called for a meeting with President David Granger, stating that they do not want to talk with both the ministries of Education and Social Protection.
However, Henry reminded the GTU that the process detailed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement must be followed for progressive decisions to be made. “It’s really strange that the union in this point in time would want to go back to negotiations,” Henry said and added, “We would have already completed the process of negotiations.”
Minister Henry explained that the 1983 bargaining agreement between the ministry and the union details a process that must be followed as prescribed. The first phase of this process is the negotiation phase, which has already been completed with neither party arriving at a compromise and as such, the matter was referred to the second phase — conciliation. “When I, as Minister of Education, would have referred the matter to conciliation, it meant that [the] negotiation phase would have failed and therefore we would have moved on to the second phase of the collective bargaining process,” Henry clarified. This conciliation phase is where a third party [the Department of Labour here] intervenes as an external body to the two parties is the second phase. Here, Minister Henry said that she no longer has the power to preside over the discussions and it is left to members from the department functioning as mediators.