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––as GTU demands 7% tax-free, $200M
The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) said the 7% salary increase for public servants inclusive of teachers is an insult to the nation’s educators, and an attempt to devalue them. It is therefore demanding the increase be tax free, and an additional $200M for teachers who have been teaching throughout the pandemic.
Noting that teachers did not receive an increase in 2020, the Union said the announcement has essentially awarded teachers 3.5% increase 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. Additionally, our teachers have labored like slaves, where they went into the communities to distribute and collect worksheets. Our ministry did not even recognize their heroic efforts for the most part,” GTU said.
It said the present multi-year agreement that remains enforced speaks to teachers receiving 8% in 2019, which was non-taxable.
GTU said the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh should be ashamed to announce that the increase will be paid together with salaries in December 2021.
“A retroactive increase for 2021 will be added to December salary then taxed. It means that teachers will take home less than 4%,” it reasoned.
It said too that due to the proposed increase, items on the local market will further skyrocket, and the ‘7%’ will not be able to cushion the impact. “The pittance cannot cushion the inflation taking place in Guyana presently. Essentially, we will be worse off than when we started,” the union said.
According to the Union, teachers will be hard press to feed themselves and family this season because of the high cost of living. It is therefore demanding that the 7% salary increase be tax-free.
Further, it said teachers should receive outstanding clothing allowances for 2021 before the end of December. GTU is also calling on Government to resolve the outstanding debunching payment to teachers for December 2021; resolve the difference in salary for teachers who were employed during the period 2016 to 2020; and add $200M to the amount set aside for frontline workers so that teachers who have been in the forefront can be compensated like medical personnel.
It has also called for the Government to engage the Teachers’ Union in the Collective Bargaining process to negotiate salary and non-salary matters.
“The GTU believes that our government can do better to make the lives of educators better by ensuring that they are adequately compensated for their effort. Guyana has more than enough resources to distribute among our hard-working teachers. Our teachers in region # 2 indicated that they would not accept less than 15% for 2021,” the Union said.