Have the teachers been short-changed by their union?

first_imgBy Sase Singh; MSc – Finance, ACCAIntroductionGuyana faces serious challenges in the number, quality, and distribution of teachers in the system. The 2016-2018 income negotiations (old process) did not help this situation. In spite of the dreadful reality, there is something fresh about the current leadership in the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU).  It is in this light that the Kaieteur News cartoon must be rejected because it is an alteration of the truth. It clearly misclassified Coretta McDonald.As a collective, this new GTU leadership has shown themselves as people who are willing to engage in industrial relations battles when necessary. Isn’t that a good thing for the teachers?  The time was right to bring an end to the old process because there is a new process that needs more attention at this moment. By the new process, I am referring to the 2019-2021 income negotiations. Managing two processes simultaneously would have been inefficient and ineffective. Thus, the GTU leadership must be credited for focusing on the new income negotiations.I am aware that a few are disappointed with Mark Lyte for pulling the plug on the old process, including some inside his team. But they are not seeing the long game. Everything that happened in the old process has aided an outcome where the GTU now commands the moral high ground on these 2019-2021 wages talks. The GTU is in its strongest negotiating position ever in the history of independent Guyana and that happened because of their reasonableness in the old process.The Guyanese nation, especially the students, would have seen a GTU that cares more for their students’ welfare than their own. The stakeholders can now see clearly the problem is the stingy and hypocritical Government, which has money for billion-dollar travel for Government executives but not enough for the teachers. If the GTU calls a long-term strike in support of the teachers, they will be able to count on the students and their parents.But mistakes were made in the old process which will not happen in the new process. Firstly, if the teachers are called out in 2019, they will not be returning to the classroom until real cash and a signed agreement are in place.Secondly, the GTU leadership did exhibit many opportunities of inexperience and was more willing to give Team Granger the benefit of the doubt. It is now clear that Team Granger must not be trusted. Cordiality yes, trust no!Thirdly, they failed to adequately leverage the wealth of experience in the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana and the Trades Union Congress to help strengthen their position. In the new process, that will not happen.Fourthly, the GTU failed to build a cash war chest to support teachers if a strike happens. They have 12 months to commence the accumulation process.Fifthly, an alliance with the Private Sector must be built from now to ensure support can be garnered from that angle if the need arises. For example, I was told a company offered all the water for the teachers on strike in September 2018.  Those are the kind of relationships that mould a struggle.Sixthly, though all teachers’ matters focus on your TS3 and TS4 – since it is these people who are the bulk of the teaching fraternity – and it is they who will come out. You cannot expect the head of Queens College to back you when her salary surpasses GY$250,000 per month, but those who are averaging around GY$79,000 per month will stand with you to the end.With an awareness that the Government does not represent your class interest, the new process must be constructed by the GTU leadership very differently than the old process.  The road to the end game must be project managed from now. Have the letters been written to the Government outlining your position on the 2019-2021 income negotiations?  If not, let us get this ball rolling!last_img read more