WPA expresses solidarity with teachers on pay dispute

Guyana Chronicle
January 4, 2003

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WORKING People's Alliance (WPA) has deplored what is calls the decision by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) Government, whose Founder/Leader was a champion of the working class, to impose a settlement in the teachers' wages dispute.

Describing the action as "high-handed”, “anti-worker” and “dictatorial”, WPA said it is “yet another show of force destined to add to the turmoil affecting the country”.

A WPA press release said the party followed, with interest, the progress of the negotiations and has noted, with amazement, “the lies, half-truths and outstanding dishonesty by those representing the Government, including the Education Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey and his officials.

The release said:” Following the failure to agree a reasonable settlement, the negotiations moved to conciliation, under the chairmanship of the Chief Labour Officer (CLO) who, on December 16, 2002, declared it deadlocked and recommended that the matter referred to arbitration.

"The Government's astounding response, in arrogantly declaring that it was not prepared to resolve the matter through arbitration, offended good industrial practice. It also sought to discredit the CLO and implicate his office, by a false and misleading statement provoking a categorical denial by the CLO.”

The WPA release went on:” To add insult to injury, Cabinet announced the settlement without even having the courtesy of informing the Union with which the Government was negotiating. Teachers and their representatives must now choose between industrial action at the beginning of a new school term or accept the imposition by Cabinet - bitter, disappointed and determined to leave a profession and an employer, which guarantee continued poverty and demotivation.

“Despite information to the contrary, some teachers will be earning less than the minimum salary in the Public Service, a position which even the Ministry of Education has stated, in writing, that if finds unacceptable.

“It seems, as well, that the submission by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), on hinterland allowances and other issues etc, have been completely ignored by the Government and are not to be considered,” WPA said.

Expressing solidarity with GTU and all teachers and pleading with the Government to "observe minimum standards of good industrial practice, normal in a democratic environment”, WPA said:” If the Government is serious about economic progress and human development, it must ensure that teachers earn reasonable salaries and are treated with respect.

“It is only when this is done that teachers will find it possible to respect their employers,” the release said.

It called on the Government to engage the teachers and their representatives in “meaningful, honest and mutually respectful negotiations.”

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