January 23, 2018

Favourable resolutions to public servants’ difficulties

Dear Editor,
The news media all reported about President David Granger’s meeting with officials of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU). The President’s swift response was surprising to say the least and served to convey the impression that the Administration was concerned about the plight of the nation’s teachers. The interest shown by the State must have been pleasing to the eyes and ears of our teachers who play a tremendous role in moulding and training the nation.
But I have long learnt and strongly believe that the devil is in the details. And it is with that in mind that I have examined what the nation’s teachers have gotten from the President’s intervention. Well, from what is reported, they will receive an interim pay rise of between six to eight per cent. If one is guided by the Public Sector imposed pay rises, it means that no teacher earns more than Gy$299,000 per month. While the President speaks about an educated nation, seemingly in terms of the teachers’ pay packet, scant attention is paid. We are told this is an interim arrangement. But this tune seems familiar. Oh yes, the same thing was told to the public servants in 2016.
Then with the usual two card trick, the teachers and the public are told that a task force will be established to examine the Union’s concerns and requests. Again, another familiar song is being sung. Our nation is now more than at any other time in its history has a bevy of task forces, committees, Commissions of Inquiry and other such like. The reports which emanated from those exercises lie idly, gathering dust on our leaders’ shelves. Let me hope that the teachers’ task force does not follow its predecessors. Furthermore, the task force, as far as I can see, will only make recommendations which the Administration is not bound to accept. Certainly, the matters of concern could have been settled over the bargaining table. But all in all, one can expect that it’s another smoke screen.
In light of the President’s meeting with the teachers’ union, he is now duty bound to engage the sugar workers and public service unions alike. Both have large segments of workers employed by the State, that have legitimate grouses with the Administration’s approach to them and their representative organisations. I hope the President in similar haste engages the workers and unions concerned towards finding favourable resolutions to their difficulties. Anything less Mr President would be seen as discriminatory.

Yours faithfully,
Patricia Persaud