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Interim 20% across-the-board payment among GTU’s demands during conciliation talks

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After two days of conciliation talks at the Ministry of Labour, representatives from the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) have not been able to end the deadlock towards the signing of an agreement that would see the ongoing strike called off and the talks continue.

As such, at the end of the second day of talks, the two sides decided to take a break, with a verbal agreement that the talks would continue next Monday – May 20.

The talks largely surround salary increases for teachers and while the GTU insisted that those talks should first address the 2019 – 2023 period, the MoE maintains that there is no fiscal space to engage in those considerations and instead proposed that the talks address increases from 2024 onwards.

The GTU said its countrywide strike will continue until an agreement is reached.

In an effort to compromise, the union said it will call off the strike as the talks move forward. It has asked for, among other things, that an Interim 20 per cent across-the-board payment be made to all teachers.

The union is demanding that the agreement includes a commitment that no victimization, loss of service, transfers, or demotions will come to any teacher involved in the strike upon the resumption of duties.

The GTU wants negotiations to commence within 72 hours of the resumption and take place over six weeks and asked for the establishment of an arbitration tribunal if the negotiations fail within the stipulated period.

Additionally, it has demanded the recusal of the Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, from the negotiations process.

The union said these requests are not being considered even as the Ministry maintains bargaining from 2024 onwards.

On Tuesday, Subject Minister Priya Manickchand called for “sense to prevail”, noting that any disruptions will result in learning losses for students.

“Any teacher who stays away from a classroom will cause some disruption and it will hurt the system and children and we are concerned about that,” Manickchand said at a press conference in Kingston, Georgetown on Tuesday.

Teachers resumed street protests as part of strike action on Monday while union representatives met with education officials for conciliation talks at the Ministry of Labour. Those talks continued into Tuesday afternoon without little progress toward ending the strike.

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