The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) has described the recently announced seven per cent salary increase by the Government as “an insult and attempt to devalue teachers”.
The GTU said, “teachers did not receive an increase in 2020, and this announcement has essentially awarded teachers 3.5 per cent for 2021.”
“Since COVID-19 came to the shores of Guyana, teachers have found innovative ways to service the nation’s children with no support from the Government in the areas of gadgets, internet, and electricity,” GTU said.
According to the Union, “teachers have laboured like slaves [and] they went into the communities to distribute and collect worksheets.”
The Union has called out the Education Ministry for its failure to realise the efforts of teachers. “Our ministry did not even recognise their heroic efforts for the most part,” said the Union.
The GTU added that the current Multi-year Agreement that remains enforced speaks to teachers receiving an eight per cent salary increase in 2019, which was non-taxable.
According to the Union, Finance Minister Ashni Singh should be ashamed to announce that this increase will be paid together with salaries. The teachers’ representative body, therefore, asked what should teachers expect in December. It went on to outline the following:
1. A retroactive increase for 2021 will be added to December salary then taxed. It means that teachers will take home less than 4%.
2. The announced salary increase will further increase every item consumers need to get by in December 2021 and beyond. The pittance cannot cushion the inflation taking place in Guyana presently. Essentially, we will be worse off than when we started.
3. Teachers will be hard press to feed themselves and family this season because of the high cost of living.
The GTU said it is calling on the Government to:
1. Award the 7% tax-free to teachers to cope with the increasing cost of living in Guyana.
2. Pay outstanding Clothing Allowances for 2021 to teachers in December.
3. Resolve the outstanding debunching payment to teachers for December 2021.
4. Resolve the difference in salary for teachers who were employed during the period 2016 to 2020.
5. Add $200 million to the amount set aside for frontline workers so that teachers who have been in the forefront can be compensated like medical personnel.
6. Engage the Teachers’ Union in the collective bargaining process to negotiate salary and non-salary matters.
The GTU said it believes the Government can do better to make the lives of educators better by ensuring that they are adequately compensated for their effort. It pointed out that Guyana has more than enough resources to distribute among its hard-working teachers.
The Union said that teachers in Region Two have indicated that they would not accept less than a 15 per cent increase for 2021.