The Ministry of Education and Guyana Teachers Union failed to come to an agreement on the candidates for the tribunal to arbitrate teachers wages and salaries. On Tuesday last the two sides met to discuss terms of references for arbitration, a process that is still ongoing.
On Friday, a meeting was convened to discuss the members and chairman for the tribunal, the Ministry of Education presented two persons who are present serving members of the government, they are Derick Cummings, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Telecommunications and Glendon Harris, Human Resources Manager, Guyana Revenue Authority. The union presented two persons who are currently neutral, Jeffrey Thomas, Rashleigh Jackson and Aubrey Armstrong who is an arbitrator. The meeting ended once again without any consensus.
According to Colis Nicklson, Regional Vice President for Demerara Guyana Teachers Union, the union is not prepared to accept any single digit salary increase from the government and they are also calling for a meeting with President David Granger, who is currently out of the country.
In an exclusive interview with Guyana Daily News, Mr. Nicklson said that if the government does not propose a favorable alternative to the 40% increase, then they will be continuing the strike all across the country. He further noted, both the Minister of education, Nicolette Henry and Junior Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott, have compromised their positions to make any fair negotiations, on behalf of the government, hence the calling of a meeting with President Granger.
“we only feel is fitting that his excellency intervene at this point…remember he was the one who was very instrumental in having the high level task force in place…we feel he should say something to us , let’s hear what are his thought on this entire process,” Mr. Nicklson said.
As with regards to the issue about the government not affording the increase, the Regional Vice President said that if the government cannot afford the increase at this time, then the President needs to formally notify the union and say what alternative arrangements can be put in place, but they will not accept any single digit increase, the Vice President re-iterated.
He further explained that the 40% is a proposal and if the government cannot afford then they need to come with a counter proposal, which was not done, the 40% is negotiable, collective bargaining is all about negotiation, he noted. All that has been given to the union is ball park figures, and the union cannot accept ball park figures because teachers will get anything whimsically.