Talks ongoing between GTU, Education Ministry

Labour Ministry will not intervene during the process – Min. Hamilton

While discussions about the possibility of another strike action loom, Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton has emphasised that engagement between the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) is still underway contrary to its assertions.

“As we see it and understand it, the two parties are still engaged. There isn’t a breakdown of talks,” the minister told the Department of Public Information (DPI) during an interview at his Brickdam office in Georgetown on Wednesday.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton

He said the labour ministry’s position on the matter remains the same, noting that “There will be no intervention of the ministry by the CLO [Chief Labour Officer] or the minister.”

The minister believes the GTU’s recent action of intentionally withdrawing from the negotiations during the last engagement is aimed at creating a perception of a breakdown in talks.

So [that] they could call for the reconciliation of intervention by the chief legal officer and they might call for arbitration,” he further elaborated.

Since August 11, 2020, the education ministry has been in a ‘long and settled’ practice of holding monthly meetings with the GTU to discuss various issues, including teacher salaries and welfare, as well as improvements to the education sector’s management.

Consequently, teachers have benefited from various interventions, including the distribution of school cash grants, salary allowances and adjustments, and duty-free concessions.

Despite all these interventions, the GTU in February organised illegitimate industrial actions to express its grievances for teachers’ salaries and wages to be increased, among other issues.

The court hearing for the two issues submitted by the GTU is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10.

“The two matters are [that] they are seeking to have the court compel the government to pay the teachers that were on strike and to compel the government to continue to be the accountant for the GTU,” the labour ministry explained.  

He pointed out that in all labour relations matters, whether in the private or public sectors, workers are not paid for days they did not work during a strike.

Minister Hamilton reiterated that the process concerning labour laws and relations remains unchanged and will not be altered.

Before the strike, teachers were warned that participating in an illegal strike would result in non-payment of wages.

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