The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) is calling on the government to honour the call made by public school teachers for increase incentives and salaries, noting that the administration’s retort to the teacher planned industrial action might be seen as political suicide.
Over the past few weeks, the union that represents teachers – the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) – has been meeting with government officials to come to an agreement on requested increases in salaries and incentives.
Both parties have refused to budge, with the union contemplating to take to the streets.
With the new academic term likely to begin in less than a week, the negotiations are yet to be completed.
The Ministry of Education – as stated in other sections of the media – says that it has a backup plan should the teachers take industrial action upon the resumption of the new school year. This plan involves the hiring of private tutors.
The WPA, in a release earlier today accused the government of picking a fight with the teachers.
Ironically, the WPA forms part of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), which makes up one half of the governing coalition.
“From the political angle, WPA feels the government is committing political suicide by picking a fight with teachers, most of whom voted for the Coalition. It is bad politics to alienate your supporters on a matter that could be easily solved. We, therefore, urge the government to give the teachers their due. It would be an economic boost for teachers and that would have direct and indirect impacts on the state of education while ensuring that a key electoral bloc is not alienated,” the WPA noted in a press statement.
Further, the party noted its disappointment with government to arrive at an amicable settlement of the wage issue with the GTU.
“What is even more frightening is the government’s apparent indifference to the threat of industrial action by the teachers. Rather than trying harder to arrive at an agreement, the Ministry of Education, according to reports, appears to be more concerned with hiring scab-labour to counter the teachers’ threat. This insensitivity towards the teachers’ reasonable demands is at odds with President Granger’s strident education activism,” the WPA stated.
The WPA said that it stand with the teachers; supporting their demands for a “living wage”.
The Party also noted that teachers have a right to take legitimate action in pursuit of those demands.
The union had proposed, among other things, a 40 percent across the board increase for teachers for 2016; 45 percent increase for last year and 50 percent for this year and the following two years (2019-2020) for all categories of teachers.