Teachers’ Strike- President Ali conveniently myopic, pretending at being amnesiac

His Excellency, President Ali, can be excused for his acrobatics and histrionics on the teachers’ strike development, given the pressures of his national office. He himself in one of his earlier thoughtless tirades, a chip off the Jagdeo block, had said something to the effect that ‘is nah waan ting at waan time happenin’, or being done, but a whole host of tings aal at evvel.’ Yessir! Message received loud and clear, notwithstanding that it is repeating the obvious. On the teachers’ strike movement, following the court-ordered mediation, President Ali forgot all that went on before, and came up with a new narrative, one molded to the new realities on the ground, one that sounded pleasing to his ears.

Exactly what I have been saying all along, no different. Return to work and allow the process that was ongoing to continue. Why was this so difficult? The same request that the Ministry of Education and Government have been making continuously, we will continue to work in the interests of all workers” (“Teachers’ Union sends a list of financial matters to Ministry of Education for talks”, Demerara Waves, March 5, 2024).

If I didn’t know that it was Guyana’s head of state who uttered those words, I would chalk them up to someone who has lost his head, his memory, and his ability to think rationally. Someone not capable of connecting the dots to his own record of past actions, and how that brought teachers, students, parents, and the school system to where they were all trapped for just under a month. A lesser citizen would have been castigated, handed his head in his hand, and then hauled over the coals, for good measure. Since it is Excellency Ali, the national leader, his office is due the immaculate, and not the incendiary, where courtesy is concerned. I give it my best shot.

What process was it that was ongoing, Dr. Head of State? From the moment that the provisions of the executed collective bargaining agreement between the Guyana Teachers Union and the Government of Guyana were violated by the government (and Excellency Ali himself) all talk of “process that was ongoing” no longer had any footing. The president himself saw to that with his unilateral and heavy-handed impositions of hisse raise(s), despite cries for him not to breach a standing collective bargaining agreement.

President Ali had to know, at a most basic level, that what he was a party to with those impositions could not be representative of any ongoing process, but what was primitive in its exercise of power. It is on occasions like these that I call (respectfully, naturally) on Excellency Ali to scour the teachings and accumulated wisdom that he should have obtained from his doctoral studies and put them to the best use. Among such use should be what honors agreements, and what leaves an inspiring mark relative to leadership maturity, and leadership credibility. When any national leader goes the other way, and then tries futilely to coverup what went before, then only what is untrustworthy results. I regret immensely that this is how President Ali looks and sounds nowadays, given the holes he has dug for himself.

In addition, President Ali being who he is could not discipline himself to limit himself to this imaginary process that was ongoing. He had to plunge headlong into a murky swamp. He continued with this: “the same request that the Ministry of Education and Government have been making continuously….” What process, sir? Mr. President: the raw reality is that the ministry and government have done Nicolás Maduro on Guyana’s striking teachers. Threats and tantrums. Hisse will be cut. Union dues deductions not cut. The strike is “illegal.” Taken individually or together, I interpret that so-called process as tantamount to holding a gun to the head of local teachers. Giveup or get ready to get guts dragged out of belly. Cave-in or come prepared for breath cutoff, and a final crushing to follow.

The hostility, and aggressiveness, and accompanying saber rattling that the Venezuelan Maduro was wielding against what he believed to be a frightened Guyanese populace, these were the precise practices that the PPP Government and the Ministry of Education were delivering on stubborn teachers. It was that striking is risky, for the worst is yet to come, and from a government and leadership fully committed to total and callous dominance of every single aspect of Guyanese life. These are the people that spout platitudes about democracy and its standards. These guys are show horses, aren’t they? All neigh and nickering and nothing else.

The last salvo had to be from a man, a leader, who can no longer help himself. “We will continue to work in the interests of all workers.” Surely, President Ali is incapable of being so dense, cannot be so much in his own world, that he concludes that there are Guyanese who believe that tripe (“all workers”), and are not laughing at him behind their hands. There must be someone with some level of residual sanity, some speck of commonsense and courage, to whisper to the president: Sir, stop please! This flies in the face of facts, recent trade union history, collective bargaining management (and honoring), and is insulting to the intelligence of all Guyanese.

I am trying to find something to justify President Ali’s convenient myopia, and his pretense at amnesia. I think that this fits the situation well. President Ali fooled himself into thinking that his words about process ongoing and being for all workers was seizing the high ground. He is sadly mistaken. In his scramble for the high ground, Excellency Ali lost his footing and fell flat on his face. He tried to plaster over the teachers’ strike situation, only to succeed at wrapping himself in plaster of Paris. Quite frankly and humbly so, Excellency Ali, this bluffing is both barefaced and boring. It is now taking on some of the elements of buffoonery.