Education Ministry says pay hike talks satisfactory
- but GTU sees arbitration beckoning

Stabroek News
June 5, 1999

The Ministry of Education is satisfied with talks between the Guyana Teachers' Union (GTU) and itself on the issue of salaries but the union feels that agreement on the issue will not be reached by the June 14, deadline.

As such, the union is preparing for arbitration, GTU President Bertram Hamilton said. In a telephone interview, Hamilton said that after five meetings with the ministry's negotiators, it appears that they do not have the ability to successfully negotiate a pact.

The talks follow a strike called by the union to back demands for increased salaries during the second week in May. The strike lasted for eight working days and was called off to facilitate talks between the two parties.

In a brief telephone interview, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Hydar Ally, told Stabroek News that the ministry will present a counter-proposal on salaries to the GTU.

Ally said that generally he was satisfied with the discussions and felt that an agreement satisfactory to both parties will be reached. Ally along with Trevor Thomas, the principal personnel officer in the Ministry of Education are the ministry's chief negotiators. They are sometimes joined by other ministry officials. Hamilton said that the union had the impression that the Education Ministry was trying to stagnate the talks until a decision is made on salaries for public servants.

He said that the arguments by the ministry's team are always that teachers' salaries are higher than those of public servants and that some headteachers receive higher salaries than the education officers who supervise their activities. This matter, he said, is clouding the negotiations.

Noting that the union is awaiting the ministry's response to its proposals, Hamilton said that the ministry has not been doing its homework and has only been playing around with words about representing the teachers' cause to the Ministry of Finance. Declaring that this has not been the case, he said that the GTU has had to get a commitment from the ministry to present its counter-proposal on the issue of salaries on Monday. Monday's meeting under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Labour is due to begin at 1500 hrs. (Miranda La Rose)

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples