To interpret the word ‘nominate’ to mean appoint is a flagrant disregard for the English Language or simply illiteracy at its worse. This is the conviction of President of the Guyana Teachers Union [GTU], Mr. Mark Lyte.
The word ‘nominate’, he explained, is simply defined as the action of putting forward something for consideration. It was just this action that was required of Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Mr. Keith Scott, after the Ministry of Education and GTU failed to agree on an individual to chair an arbitration panel to negotiate a salary increase for public school teachers.
It is clearly stated in a Memorandum of Agreement [MOA] signed by the two concerned sides [Education and GTU] on April 10, 1990 that “where there isn’t agreement between the parties on an arbitration chair, the Ministry of Labour will be asked to ‘nominate’ one”. But instead an appointment in the person of Professor Leyland Lucas was made, mused Lyte, as he addressed
a press conference yesterday.
This development the GTU President said has indicated that the country is faced with a much more daunting situation than merely an industrial dispute. “We seem to have a literacy problem from the top; we don’t only have a literacy problem in the classrooms but among serving ministers of government and this is a cause for concern for us as educators. We may have to start the [education] process from the top,” Lyte quipped.
Lyte noted that while the Minister might have sought to appoint Professor Lucas because he is probably an “excellent person”, the union does not have the luxury of knowing of the man’s character. Professor Lucas is said to be a remigrant who currently holds an appointment at the University of Guyana.
As he maintained that the Minister had no right to appoint the man, Lyte noted that “if you examine the document [MOA], at all times the word ‘nominate’ is used. I don’t know what other interpretation could have been garnered by the Minister?”
Should government opt to retain Professor Lucas, the union has stated its intent to instigate strike action among its near 10,000 membership.
Currently the GTU is gaining support from the Guyana Trade Union Congress and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana to help mobilise its membership to strike. GTUC’s General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis said, “industrial action has a number of measures that can bring an employer to the [negotiation] table.”