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The GTU is insisting that in spite of the declaration that the Education Ministry will not move to arbitration over the increase in teachers’ salaries, the issue is still open.
GTU President Sydney Murdock told Stabroek News on Wednesday that the union’s executive was meeting during the week and sees the issue of arbitration still open as there had been some misunderstanding about the meeting facilitated by the Ministry of Labour at which representatives of the union and the education ministry were to meet. The union he said, was still preparing for arbitration.
Murdock said the union has not received any communication from the Ministry of Labour or the Ministry of Education that the ministry would not go to arbitration.
Dr Jeffrey had declared last week that the Education Ministry would not go to arbitration since the union had failed to attend a meeting to discuss the move. He said the ministry could have only gone to arbitration by mutual consent and the GTU showed no urgency in dealing with the matter.
Murdock pointed out that the union objected in a letter to the Chief Labour Officer Mohamed Akeel to claims that the GTU neglected to attend the meeting at which Education Ministry and Ministry of Labour representatives were present.
Akeel in a letter to the GTU said that he took full responsibility for any embarrassment caused to the union as they did not contribute to the mix-up. He explained in a letter dated December 30, that due to a breakdown in communication “within my office I was not advised that the meeting was not arranged.” He said he presumed that “since the Permanent Secretary (Hydar Ally) was present that the meeting was arranged and the union did not attend. He said “I so advised the Permanent Secretary and further advised that the meeting will be rescheduled.”
The Chief Labour Officer also denied that he advised the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education “that the Collective Labour Agreement does not bind either party to arbitration”. Akeel said that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education had stated that the advice had been given by the Ministry of Labour. Murdock told Stabroek News that he objected to the Ministry of Labour advising one party against the other.
On the payout for the increases of teachers’ salaries for last year which ranges from 5% to 15% depending on the categories, Murdock said the union could not stop the government from paying if it wants to but added that the ministry has not communicated with the union on the payout.
(Miranda La Rose)