Some teachers getting no strike relief payments
-Baptiste says dependent on availability of funds
Stabroek News
May 14, 2004

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The Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) is paying teachers relief for backing the 2003 strike action for salary in-creases based on the availability of funds, GTU Adminis-trator Lance Baptiste says.

Responding to complaints from some teachers that they had not been paid relief as promised by the GTU Exe-cutive Committee for backing the strike action from March to May last year, Baptiste told Stabroek News that the slow pace of payment was because of a shortfall in funds.

He said that over 50% of the teachers have been paid. Some $20 million has been paid out already.

Baptiste said the shortfall in funds arose after the Ministry of Education stopped deducting union dues from teachers' salaries. The union dues were deducted from teachers' salaries and paid over to the GTU.

At present, some 6,000 of the 11,000 teachers in public schools have authorised the ministry to make deductions from their salaries for union dues. Baptiste said every month a certain sum is set aside to pay the relief. He said teachers at some schools would hear that their friends at other schools had obtained relief while they did not.

Explaining that not every school can be paid at the same time, he assured teachers that every teacher who submitted a claim would benefit. He said visits would be made to the hinterland regions to pay the teachers in those areas as well.

The concerned teachers are charging that the GTU was breaking its promises to teachers in the same manner as the government. One teacher said those who received relief were teachers who had contacts with district representatives.

Baptiste noted that there were several teachers who did not take strike action, but from whose salaries the Ministry of Education had deducted monies. Those teachers, he said applied for strike relief. He said some were paid the relief but on investigating it was found that they were not on strike. Some have paid back the relief.

Teachers who did not take strike action but had deductions made from their salaries are being advised to take their attendance registers to the ministry to obtain refunds. (Miranda La Rose)