September 25, 2016

Nationwide strike in pipeline for teachers

– GTU insulted that prisoners’ demands were met, while teachers’ pleas being sidelined

By Devina Samaroo

Teachers across the country will be left with no other choice but to resort to a massive nationwide protest in an effort to reinforce their demands for better treatment and to have their concerns addressed with urgency, particularly those against the Teaching Services Commission (TSC).

GTU members picketing outside the TSC building on Brickdam

GTU members picketing outside the TSC building on Brickdam

Leila Ramson

Leila Ramson

They are also upset that the prisoners seem to be making headway in getting the Government to attend to their issues whereas those who dedicate their time towards moulding the future generation are being sidelined.
The Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) General Secretary Coretta McDonald, during another of the Union’s picketing exercises outside the TSC office on Brickdam, indicated that teachers would no longer be “putting up” with the continued injustices that have been meted out to them over the years.
“We are standing up for what we believe. We are saying that teachers should be treated as professionals. Over the years, we’ve had issues with the Teaching Services Commission and the manner in which they operate in appointing teachers, which is not in accordance with what is supposed to be happening. We’ve been given promises over and over and over that things are going to change; however, things have remained the same and it will not go on like this for another year,” she posited.
McDonald said a meeting was currently being arranged between the Union and the TSC; however, if the outcome was unfavourable, teachers would definitely take their actions up a notch.
“We have made our demands and we are hoping that at that meeting, our demands are going to be met. If not, then we will have to do what we have to do…we should start thinking of having a nationwide protest or a nationwide shutdown of the system,” she stated.
A date for the meeting is yet to be arranged.
The GTU has been staging small picketing exercises outside the TSC building for the past few months after it found the Commission guilty of breaching laws governing the promotion of teachers.
However, the quiet demonstrations have yielded little to no results, McDonald contended.
She explained that the Union was currently engaging President David Granger; Minister of State, Joseph Harmon and Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine – all of whom were giving assurances in abundance.
According to the General Secretary, change is coming in little packages, but the main concern is not being addressed.
“The huge change we want to see happening is the removal of the TSC, the members of the TSC and have a new Commission established,” she asserted.

Meanwhile, McDonald said it was rather insulting to teachers that prisoners appeared to “have more rights than teachers”.
“We find this to be very disrespectful…It is rather disgusting when you look at the manner in which some persons are being treated as against teachers who are the moulders of this nation,” she decried.
The General Secretary argued that teachers for years have been making demands for better working conditions; however, their pleas have been falling on deaf ears – whereas prisoners are making more progress in having their concerns satisfactorily addressed.
“Just the other day, we saw prisoners burning buildings and mattresses which eventually led to the death of some of them. We are not going to burn mattresses or burn books or burn school buildings or break off wood from school buildings, but we are going to do what we have to do because just the same way the prisoners have concerns and their concerns were listened to, we’re expecting that the President will ask his Ministers to come and listen to us,” she expressed.

In July, acting Chief Justice Ian Chang granted an Order preventing the TSC from issuing and publishing promotions.
The GTU is contending that procedures undertaken to grant promotions are blatantly biased and it only serves to demoralise teachers.
Commenting on the progress of the legal action, McDonald said the process was taking too long.
“We were disappointed that at the last hearing, it was just called up and pushed to another date … Justice delayed is justice denied,” she stated in urging a quick resolution.
The next hearing is set for June 6.

Above board
The TSC has since refuted the claims made by the Union.
The Commission’s Chairman, Leila Ramson, has maintained that all the promotions are stringently guided by a set of criteria and principles and, as such, are above board.
Against that backdrop, Ramson expressed concern about the negative impact and repercussions these delays in the promotions were having on students and teachers, and the overall delivery of quality education.

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