The Ministry of Education and by extension the Government of Grenada are extremely concerned about the decision of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) to ask members to call in sick on Tuesday, leaving many students in a number of schools, unsupervised and at risk.
The Ministry of Education previously raised this concern for students’ safety with the leadership of the union. In that regard, a request was made for parents to be given notification by teachers, of planned industrial action which would affect the supervision of students, so that alternative arrangements can be made to support children in need of the same.
The union contends that by giving notice, they will lose the ‘element of surprise’ and has therefore advised teachers not to share their plans to be away from the classroom with parents or students. However, the Ministry believes that the risk involved is too high just to fulfil the need to create an element of surprise. The Ministry notes that while some parents have systems in place for such occurrences, many parents have expressed that where there is no emergency, they will prefer to have an opportunity to protect their children. The Ministry continues to appeal to the Grenada Union of Teachers to carefully consider this request by parents.
Additionally, the Ministry has issued a reminder to teachers with due reference to the Labour laws of Grenada which provides guidance on leave. The Labour laws are clear that while a person can take paid leave from work for up to 2 days without a medical certificate, an employer shall not be responsible to pay an employee who has not worked having regard to what the law permits. Further, Section 71 (3) of the Employment Act, 1999 states that an employer shall not be responsible to pay an employee for more than 5 occasions during a 1-year period that he/she does not provide a medical certificate.
The Government of Grenada has consistently reiterated its commitment to pay the salary increase of 4% to public officers, including teachers as it did in 2020, the first year of the current collective bargaining agreement. However, due to the current economic situation, brought about by a significant reduction in revenue earnings, Government is unable to make the 2021 payment at this time.