Chartered Accountant and lawyer, Christopher Ram has called the government “unreasonable” for its refusal to pay teachers and other public servants “realistic” wages.

Ram, who was present earlier this week at a Guyana Teachers Union (GTU)’s protest in Georgetown, also accused the Irfaan Ali-led administration of operating unconstitutionally by refusing to negotiate with the union, even as some teachers take industrial action.

The standoff between the Education Ministry and GTU has persisted for over a week, with many teachers taking to the streets and calling on the government to do more, dubbing the 6.5 percent increase as measly.

Ram opined that teachers’ call for livable wages is not an unreasonable one.

“It is not an unreasonable call at all. In fact, anything that is unreasonable is the Government’s refusal to pay teachers, and indeed public servants generally, a more realistic wage.

“I think it is an unconstitutional position that the government has taken in relation to not negotiating with unions. The government is the party that is unreasonable in this matter,” he said.

On the question of whether the government can afford a bump in salaries, Ram said that all one has to do is “look at the budget”. The government, a little of a week ago, successfully piloted a $1.146 Trillion 2024 budget.

“Look at the budget (and) look at their spending priorities. The fact is it does not seem as though the government regards teachers’ pay – public servants’ pay as a priority in their scheme of operations,” Ram said.

With the budget already passed, Ram was recently asked by a local journalist to share his thoughts on how the government can acquire the financial space to grant the increases being sought.

He replied, “I don’t believe in financial engineering. I believe the government must say ‘yes, we must’ and there’s room. This government is quite competent and willing and able to go to the parliament when they need supplementary funds. It can do so right away.”

The government, however, seems disinclined to acquiesce to the union’s call. It has, however, gone on the offensive, claiming that the union is financially unaccountable; highlighting the entity’s failure to adhere to auditing procedures. The administration has also labelled the strike as both illegal and political, noting that the strike has been initiated by GTU’s General Secretary, an opposition parliamentarian, Coretta McDonald even though 60 percent of demands have been reportedly met.

Earlier this week also, President Dr Irfaan Ali requested that teachers and other public servants to be patient.

“Everybody believes that all our resources are available now. In 2027, that is when the real revenue growth would be seen in the country. And I have said to our teachers, nurses, and public servants that we are committed to giving them the best life possible. There is no need to politicise. Surely, the present situation with the teachers has been overtaken by political expediency,” he was quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying.

He added that the government is working to gradually enhance the welfare packages of all categories of workers. This approach is designed to foster sustainable wealth and boost the net value of all Guyanese.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here