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No agreement yet between government and GUT

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • Government of Grenada has decided to make payments to all teachers
  • Some teachers had salaries docked after they followed union’s ‘rest and reflection’ directive
  • Grenada Union of Teachers president said union will not sign an agreement that will compromise teachers

Following ongoing negotiations with the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), the Government of Grenada has decided to make payments to all teachers once the union can sign off on the agreement presently before them which seeks to end the industrial impasse.

This decision to pay all teachers comes in at a time where the union is clamouring for those teachers who were affected by the docking of salaries — estimated to be $1.4 million — after they followed the directive of the union to partake in an industrial action dubbed ‘rest and reflection’ which saw teachers not reporting to work in some cases.

The unions were protesting a 2% gratuity payment offer from the government.

In a previous Post-Cabinet briefing, Emmalin Pierre, Minister for Education, Human Resource Development, Religious Affairs, and Information indicated that the union breached protocol in contrary to the Education Act by referring to their industrial action as a time of ‘rest and reflection’ which according to the minister cannot be found anywhere within the laws that govern the teaching profession and therefore the government has no obligation to refund any money to teachers who said that they were on ‘rest and reflection’ during the 2018 industrial action.

However, during Tuesday’s Post-Cabinet briefing, Minister Pierre indicated that the government will consider the payment to those teachers in the spirit of fresh negotiations but under certain conditions that must be agreed to by the union. She also made it categorically clear that this payment to teachers should be not considered a refund since government in no way agrees that teachers should be compensated for work not rendered.

The minister outlined some of these conditions that must be included in any agreement with the union which includes:

  • Clarification on what ‘work to rule’ means when commencing industrial action in accordance with the Education Act and their appointment letter
  • The union must agree that work to rule must be an extreme action and last resort when undertaking industrial action
  • The union must understand that the government has no obligation to refund teachers who engaged in ‘rest and reflection’
  • The establishment of a code of ethics for teachers, which is in its final draft stage
  • Ensure that there are no legal hurdles in way of negotiations
  • Commitment to good governance, employment standards and practices in keeping with laws of Grenada.

The minister also indicated that the teachers who reported to work during the industrial action period of ‘rest and reflection’ will also be receiving a flat payment.

“The government decision as it relates to teachers who did not lose any money during that period is that the agreement between the union and the government will also include those people (teachers) because we are speaking about a futuristic event that has to do with the agreement of code of ethics, working together and all that we have been able to accomplish between then and now. So those [people] who did not lose anything during that period, we have agreed as a government to also make a flat payment across the board to those teachers,” Minister Pierre said.

The minister said once the union can agree to those conditions, a joint statement will be issued and date can be set to sign that agreement.

Meanwhile, both parties met on Tuesday evening and have still not reached an agreement.

President of the Grenada Union of Teachers, Marvin Andall, said that the union will not sign an agreement that will compromise teachers.

He stated that after receiving a draft MOU from the government for their consideration, legal advice was sought since, in his words, “We found some of the articles to be a bit bothering to us and we are uncomfortable with it. We have had a proposal for change and we have since submitted those to the government and we expect that a new draft would be forwarded to us and when we receive it we would consult our members, get their approval before we enter into an agreement.”

Commenting on what Minister Pierre stated during Tuesday’s Post-Cabinet briefing, with regards to the payment of all teachers, Andall said that information is not contained in the MOU presently before the union.

The GUT sent in their last recommendations yesterday on changes to the MOU that they are prepared to sign off on and are awaiting government’s response.

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