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Salary deductions loom for teachers who resumed strike after High Court ruling

By Shemar Alleyne


With the resumption of the teachers’ strike, supported by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton has warned that salary deductions may be imminent for this period.

“Now there’s another strike, and people must understand that this new strike has nothing to do with the first strike. They are separate things,” Minister Hamilton remarked during an interview on Wednesday at his Ministry’s Brickdam office.

Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton [Photo: MTV News Update/ June 05, 2024]

“They were misled into believing that the court ruling says they must be paid for this period. It dealt with nine days, not the 40-something days,” he explained. He urged teachers to understand that any new challenge would require a fresh court case.

The Teachers’ Union initiated a strike on February 5 over failed collective bargaining with the Ministry of Education (MoE). After a court-mediated process in March, talks between the Education Ministry and GTU resumed.

However, discussions halted when the Education Ministry indicated that there was no fiscal space to cater for increases for 2019 -2023. By April, High Court Judge Justice Sandil Kissoon had ruled that the government should not deduct salaries from teachers who strike for five weeks.

The government has filed an appeal, and Minister Hamilton noted that Justice Kissoon “overstepped his boundaries.”

“The law does not prescribe at all for the Judge to do mediation in a labour relations issue. The jurisdiction belongs to the Chief Labour Officer in the first instance and Minister.”

He explained that the recent meeting with GTU and MoE aimed to consolidate the discussion around the negotiation periods, not to discuss salaries or benefits.

“The GTU was attempting to bring into this narrow matter a demand for a 20% interim payment, which was not part of the conciliation process,” he noted, calling such demands “total trash.”

To this end, a meeting between GTU and MoE is slated for June 10. The Minister said he hopes teachers will realise they are being “misled and used as political pawns.”

“I am hopeful that the teachers would recognise that they are being duped and used for the narrow benefit of some political types who care not about their future and circumstances,” he concluded.


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