EI affiliate the Guyana Teachers' Union (GTU) is calling on its members to take the day off on February 1, dubbing the event 'Stress Day' as a form of industrial action to protest government's imposition of salaries and the manner in which negotiations have been dealt with over the past five years.
GTU President Avril Crawford said that the union continues to ask for the reduction of class sizes to make learning and teaching conducive to children and teachers, and housing for teachers to encourage them to remain in the country and to cushion the pressures of their work. The union is also asking for and an increase in the living allowance for teachers in remote areas. The GTU notes that whereas teachers working in the hinterland and deep riverain areas now receive an extra allowance of $2,500, nurses working in those same areas are receiving $12,000. "This would help to appease the anger and frustration teachers experience day after day," Crawford said. A 7% increase in salaries was imposed while negotiations were still in progress, but Crawford said that the union recognised that the ministry was no longer interested in the negotiations. The GTU wrote the Ministry of Labour to remind those involved that the process was not completed and met with the Deputy Chief Labour Officer and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Pulandar Kandhi. Crawford said that Kandhi told them that 2005 was behind them and advised that they forget what happened last year and begin negotiations for 2006. The union expressed disappointment and wants closure to one process before starting the other, she said. The GTU are hesitant to take strike action as many teachers were victimised, threatened, and lost salaries during the last teachers’ strike of 1999.