Granger questions whether PPP/C Govt deliberately waging war against Teachers Union

Vulgar! Vulgar! Vulgar! The scurrilous ‘skit’ which highlighted the People’s Progressive Party’s 32nd Congress in May exposed the PPP/C’s contempt for teachers and explained its refusal to negotiate in good faith. The skit derided the teachers’ plight as a theatrical farce.

Former President David Granger

Former President David Granger, speaking on the programme – The Public Interest – asked whether the PPPC was deliberately waging a war of attrition against the Guyana Teachers’ Union.

He emphasised the intention of UNESCO’s declaration of the observance of World Teachers’ Day “… to ensure that teaching is transformed everywhere into a more attractive and valorised profession where teachers are valued, trusted, and adequately supported to meet the needs of every learner. Bold actions must be taken, if we are to reverse the current decline and successfully increase teacher numbers.

In this regard, Mr. Granger recalled that the Guyana Teachers’ Union, established 140 years ago in 1884, is recognised and respected as representative of the interests of nearly 12, 000 teachers in the public education system. About 85 per cent of teachers are women, many of whom are married with children. Their monthly household expenses for a child’s school transportation could reach $6,000 and after-school lessons about $6,000.

Teachers have had to resort to providing ‘extra lessons’ or to selling snacks to cover household expenses. Teachers contend that the cost-of-living is high and, without adequate salaries, daily life is difficult. Teachers of every ethnicity admit that the cause of their strike has remained the same – insufficient money and disregard for salary negotiations.

The GTU’s position is based on its multi-year proposal that was presented to the PPPC administration to start the process of collective bargaining nearly four years ago in August 2020. Several meetings were cancelled and the GTU’s proposals were ignored. The PPPC administration’s failure to respect the right of workers to collective bargaining and to honour its obligations to negotiate with the GTU in good faith, triggered the 29-day strike in February this year.

Teachers from the hinterland community on the picket line

The GTU ended its strike in March after the High Court ordered mediation. Talks collapsed as the two sides could not agree on the years from which salary negotiations should start and the GTU resumed the strike in May.

The current crisis is a result of the PPP mindset of deliberate ‘totalistic’ control over the entire state that leaves no space for civil society, political opponents or social cohesion. PPPC officials depicted the Teachers’ strike as a political conflict between the PPPC and APNU, accusing the latter of “hijacking” the Unions. The PPC deemed the strike as the work of elements in the GTU being purely political in nature and devoid of genuine concern for the grievances faced by teachers.

Teacher Nina Flue-Bess MP on the picket line May 13, 2024

The former president expressed the opinion that the PPPC has tried to discredit a legitimate representative organisation, engender distrust and devalue a very important aspect of public life. The PPPC seems willing to import teachers and technicians from foreign countries on contracts which it can control. That attitude is forcing teachers and other public servants to flee from the land of their birth instead of remaining to create a good life for themselves and future generations