A High Court Judge recently issued conservatory orders barring the Guyana Government from deducting salaries from striking teachers until the substantive matter is resolved. However, the Chief Education Officer, Saddam Hussain issued a missive recently directing Regional Educational Officers to continue making notes of those teachers who continue to absent themselves by partaking in industrial action.

He wrote: “The Government of Guyana will not pay teachers for the days that they did not work. We are advised that a final order from the court is expected to be made accordingly and consequently the information collected above will be utilised to determine teachers’ salaries.”

The wording, however, has landed the senior education official in hot water. He was summoned before the Judge, Justice Sandil Kissoon to show why he should not be committed for contempt of court.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, who appeared for the CEO, explained that perhaps the memo could have been worded better. Nevertheless, Nandlall said that the gist of the memo was to inform those regional officials to continue making notes of absentees in the event that the court rules in the government’s favour. The data would be used to assist the government in making alterations to those teachers’ salaries.

The AG emphasized that it was never the government’s intention to disrespect the court system or disobey any court orders.

Explaining the circumstances behind the issuance of a controversial circular by Hussain, the Attorney General highlighted that it stemmed from an engagement with Ministry of Education officials. The circular aimed to clarify alleged misinformation spread by the union regarding deductions from teachers’ salaries, asserting the legal principle of “no work, no pay.”

“At that engagement it was reported that the teachers are misinformed by the union that deductions will not ever be made from their salaries [and] that the case has concluded…To dispel that misinformation, I advised that the Ministry of Education continue to make a record of the absences of teachers and to inform or clarify that the order of the judge is temporary.”

Acknowledging that the circular was not worded optimally, the Attorney General stated that Hussain offered to rescind it. He emphasized that there was no intent to bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

Regarding the media’s misrepresentation of the matter, the Attorney General clarified that there was no hearing on the contempt charges, and the matter concluded without any finding of guilt. He also highlighted the court’s invitation for the parties involved to engage in mediation, underscoring the importance of resolving the matter amicably.

“The judge, I believe, was satisfied that no contempt of court was committed, and the matter died a natural death,” Nandlall clarified.


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