Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has urged the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) to have some understanding and patience as the umbrella body for teachers threatens industrial and legal actions if certain demands are not met by the almost two year old New National Party (NNP) government.
At the heart of the matter for GUT is the failure to pay increments due to teachers and the delay in regularising the status of close to 500 temporary teachers.
GUT President Lydon Lewis told the media on Monday that the situation has now become unbearable and that industrial action is high on the agenda for teachers which could take the form of strike action.
Lewis said the GUT had never agreed to have the increments payment frozen during the three-year lifespan of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) that was initiated by the Mitchell government to arrest a fiscal crisis facing the country.
However, Prime Minister Mitchell who was a guest on GBN’s “Beyond The Headlines” programme on Monday night indicated that the country is now into a Structural Adjustment Program and if his government goes ahead to solve the problem of regularising the status of teachers over night it could affect the target levels of personnel within the public service.
He said he is aware that the Department of Public Administration is working along with the teachers to resolve the issue “and all I urge is understanding and patience as we continue to move to settle” the problem affecting the teachers.
According to Dr. Mitchell, the problems affecting the teachers is not new and has been around for close to eight years.
“If you do one thing and create another problem which is a bigger one, then everyone loses including the same teachers we are talking about”, he told the programme host.
The increment payments could cost the cash-strapped NNP government close to $5M.