Teachers union to intensify industrial action

Guyana Chronicle
March 25, 2003

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THE Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) is to intensify industrial action from today, General Secretary, Ms. Avril Crawford said yesterday.

She told the Chronicle that after six days of teachers withdrawing their services from the classrooms, the union executive had not received any word from the Ministry of Education.

As a result, the GTU has decided to intensify the strike.

Beginning today, she said, teachers will withdraw their services from the classrooms until further notice.

The Ministry of Education and the union have been at odds over more pay for last year.

Efforts yesterday to contact officials of the Education Ministry were unsuccessful.

Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Hydar Ally last week pointed to a movement towards the resolution of the impasse that triggered the strike.

He told the Chronicle that GTU had replied to a letter he sent, saying the ministry is willing to engage in fresh discussions.

Ally said the reply indicated that GTU was ready to take steps for ending the industrial action, provided the terms of resumption can be agreed.

He said the ministry was encouraged by this development and will be studying it with a view to responding in due course.

Meantime, Ally said the ministry had been receiving complaints of harassment by union officials using coercive methods on teachers who have not struck while some headteachers had been closing school buildings and, by doing so, preventing those who want to from going to work.

He said, in some instances headteachers had even been telling schoolchildren to stay home as there will be no classes, to create a facade that their action has been effective.

Ally said the ministry is advising teachers who reported for duty but cannot gain access to their schools to report to the respective Education Departments and avoid deductions from their salaries.

He also spoke of indications that some school heads might be attempting to manipulate teachers attendance registers by inserting false information to cover up for those striking.

Ally said the ministry is taking a serious view of the matter and will meticulously audit the books to verify the true situation.

GTU instructed its membership to stay away from schools two days a week, since March 6, in the quest for arbitration over 2002 pay increase and other betterment.

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