by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Teachers continue their protest action
- Government and trade unions have resumed negotiations
- Parents of view that impasse has negative impact on nation’s youth
An abrupt halt to extracurricular activities by the nation’s schools is weighing heavily on the minds of some parents, as teachers continue their protest action while the government and the public sector unions are yet to reach an agreement on the issue of gratuity.
The government and the various trade unions have resumed negotiations, however a follow through on the threat made by the government to deduct on the salaries of teachers who did not report to work may have reignited tensions which later prompted GUT President Lydon Lewis to make good on his promise to have teachers commence work to rule.
This action will see teachers showing up before the start of each school day and only conduct tasks related to the classroom but will not see them going beyond the call of duty. Following the docking of teachers’ salaries, the government has moved to rectify an error made in the deductions after several teachers who reported to work or who were either on leave from work due to illness or maternity leave also had their salaries deducted. A press release was issued by the government informing those teachers effected that payments have been made to several banks and credit unions.
Lewis has indicated that the situation facing those teachers whose salaries were deducted is now before their attorney. “It is a matter that is before our lawyers for contemplation, we would have said to the ministry based on our understanding of section 29 of the Labour Relations Act speaks to the Labour Commissioner giving the directive to deduct salaries and so we intend to write a very cordial letter to the Labour Commissioner and ask for his intervention on these matters. As I said the legal matter will be discussed before our lawyers. Our executive will meet soon to discuss all the angles that we can look at these things from.”
As of Monday, several schools have teachers have cancelled all activities and some parents are not happy with the way in which the situation is being handled both by the government and the public sector unions. Although many parents who were interviewed on the streets of St George’s opted to either avoid discussing the topic openly or to remain anonymous, they are of the view that the impasse continues to have a negative impact on the nation’s youth.
A father said, “It is unfortunate for the kids to be in that position, but I have two sisters who are teachers and I know a tremendous effort they do make financially with buying breakfast and exercise books and pencils for the kids, so I think they should try to resolve this problem as soon as possible.”
Another individual commented, “I think that the situation will affect the children really bad, it has sometimes you might have to stoop to conquer. However the kids are very important and as a teacher, you have to look into that you can’t just turn your back on children because of this situation.”
Negotiations for advanced payment of pension (gratuity) for public servants are expected to recommence on Friday between the Pension Engagement Committee and the public sector trade unions