President of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), Lydon Lewis has fired off the first serious shot of the New Year against the near two year old New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell on a number of issues affecting the teaching profession.
Less than five days into 2015, Lewis has put the administration on notice that teachers are contemplating strike action within the next 60 days as government was deemed to be dragging its feet on resolving some outstanding issues.
He singled out for specific mention government’s failure to pay increments to teachers and the slow pace at which the issue of the Temporary Teachers are being dealt with by the Ministry of Education.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY on Wednesday, Lewis said that the GUT officially sent a letter the day before to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Ruth Rouse giving government two months to settle the issue of the temporary teachers or face strike action.
He said the union is hopeful that the impasse will not deteriorate to the point where GUT is forced to order teachers to down tool and shut down the nation’s schools.
He lamented the fact that over 500 persons fall into the category of “temporary teachers” and are badly affected since they have no real status within the public service and cannot do business with lending institutions due to lack of job security.
The GUT boss reiterated that the authorities are moving too slow on the issue despite several meetings held in recent months between the union, Ministry of Education officials and the Department of Public Administration on the temporary teachers.
Lewis also accused the government of not honouring its contractual obligations to public officers and teachers on the issue of outstanding increment payments.
He said that since taking office in February 2013, the NNP regime of PM Mitchell has only paid back pay to public officers and not “one cent” owed to them on the increments which they are legally entitled to.
He is hopeful that common sense will prevail and the government come up with solutions to the problems affecting the teachers