Conciliation talks on salary hikes for teachers inconclusive so far
By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
December 13, 2002

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Conciliation talks on increases in teachersí salaries, which began between the Guyana Teachersí Union (GTU) and the Ministry of Education yesterday, were inconclusive, GTU President Sydney Murdock said.

The talks were facilitated by Deputy Chief Labour Officer Dhanraj Sookdeo in the boardroom of the Ministry of Labour.

In a telephone interview, Murdock told Stabroek News that the GTU sought clarification from the Education Ministry on the $60 million package for certain categories of teachers earning below the minimum wage.

The ministryís representatives, Murdock said, have promised to clarify the issue when they meet next Monday. The Ministry of Education was represented by its acting Chief Personnel Officer Beverley Munroe and the Principal Personnel Officer Elsie Nedd. They were accompanied by a scribe.

The GTUís representatives included Murdock, General Secretary Avril Crawford; Treasurer Roger Small; Second Vice President Winifred Heywood; Regional Vice President (Demerara) Colwyn King and GTU Field Officer/Administrator Lancelot Baptiste. They were accompanied by consultant on the salary increase issue Christopher Ram and a scribe.

The GTU in a release issued prior to the start of the talks said it will accept no less than a 10% increase in salaries for teachers in the higher scale; that all teachers earning below the minimum wage be paid no less than the traditional public service minimum wage; and that all increases be paid by December 31.

This is in keeping with the mandate of an emergency meeting of the GTU General Council held on Monday.

The meeting also agreed that the executive of the union take any action necessary to enforce its demands.

Talks on salary increases for teachers between their bargaining agent and the Ministry of Education broke down during the last week in November when the government offered the teachers a five per cent increase across-the-board and a $60 million package meant to bring the salaries of teachers on the lower scale on par with the minimum wage in the traditional public service. A bitter row then erupted between the two sides over the $60M offer. The GTU denied that it had been made while Education Minister Dr Henry Jeffrey insisted that it had been put on the table.

Following the collapse of the talks the union had written a letter to President Bharrat Jagdeo asking him to intervene to bring the matter to a speedy resolution rather than having to go to conciliation and arbitration. With no response to the unionís request, the GTU moved to conciliation.

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