Ministry of Education, Guyana

Tuesday, 10 February 2015 20:39

Manickchand concerned over GTU’s continued “grandstanding”

—insists Union is deliberately misrepresenting facts
While both sides have boasted of amicable working relations over the years, 2015 broke with the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) adopting what some have deemed “blame game” tactics.

This development has been in relation to the issues duty free concessions and the debunching payout for teachers within the public education system.
Press conferences have been held by either side to state their respective cases, and neither has relented on its views.
The GTU is insisting that the Ministry has neglected to grant in excess of 100 eligible teachers their duty free concessions and has failed to payout debunching monies, which is, in essence, teachers being paid on a higher scale based on their years of service. While both sides have agreed that it was only last year that measures were fully put in place for the debunching payment, the argument being put forward by the Union is that the teachers who have not received their duty concessions were eligible since 2009.
But Minister of Education Priya Manickchand is convinced that the Union is merely on an attention-seeking mission.
“The GTU, in my view, is grandstanding and that may well be good for them as far as grandstanding goes, but it is certainly not helping or serving their membership, and in my view that is truly sad.”
Manickchand at a press conference last month had opined that the Union’s action is akin to one attempting to”stay relevant or becoming relevant…”
However, the Union subsequently hit back by revealing to this publication that it not only has proof to backup its claims that the Ministry is solely to be blamed for the non-payment of the debunching monies and the non-granting of the duty free concessions, but it was prepared to make same public.
Manickchand, in speaking specifically to the issue of duty free concessions, has insisted that while this was the public claim of the Union, “I still await the names of the teachers who they say were entitled to the concession in accordance with the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (between Government and the GTU). We would take great pleasure in serving those teachers if indeed they were entitled in 2009”.
The Minister is adamant that based on her Ministry’s records, there is no backlog as it relates to the granting of duty concessions.
The Union is from all indications unwilling to deal directly with the Minister and has revealed that it has simply been following the recommended protocol – that is, sending all relevant documents directly to the office of the Ministry’s Human Resource Officer, and not the Minister.
Nevertheless, the Minister in an unprecedented move has appealed for dialogue with the Union’s executive to address the foregoing issues.
This publication has been privy to a string of electronic communications between the Education Minister and the Union that were transmitted following publication of a number of articles in this newspaper highlighting several of the Union’s concerns. The Minister in her correspondence spoke of the earlier alluded to “working relations” between the two bodies (Ministry and Union) and questioned why some of the issues raised for the first time in the press were not brought to her attention. In fact, at a press conference the Minister noted that while she has never dissuaded the Union from talking with the media, one of her requests has always been to bring the concerns to her attention, at least simultaneously.
“I reflect on the years gone by and am deeply appreciative of the collaborative and consultative nature of our relationship that we have developed and nurtured. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that our sustained, sensible engagements have enured to the benefit of the entire education system, and specifically, to your membership,” the Minister’s missive continued.
As such, she has expressed disappointment over the Unions move to highlight issues relating to a space concern at the Brickdam Secondary School, and called the concerns published, relating to the debunching and duty free concession issues, as “inaccuracies and misrepresentations.”
Manickchand has therefore maintained that not only have the disclosures been fraught with inaccuracies, but the Union has failed to note that some of these very inaccuracies were clarified since the tenure of the former GTU President, Colin Bynoe. This however did not stop Bynoe, during a recent interview with this publication from accusing the Ministry of being “dishonest and respectful” as it relates to the debunching payment.
The Minister in her writings to the Union has however chronicled the course of implementing the debunching feature, which she claimed saw the close involvement of representatives on both the Union and Ministry sides. She therefore questioned how the Union could blame the Ministry solely for delaying the payment of the debunching monies when, according to her, the Union has been well aware of the entire process.
“I cannot allow myself to believe that there was a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the true nature of our (MoE/GTU) partnership and/or our joint efforts, because that would certainly cause us to reconsider the way we engage and that would be sad, as there is still much that we need to do, and indeed can do, for our teachers and children,” the Minister said to the Union.

Source: Kaieteur News

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