President of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) Lydon Lewis is urging members of the union to exercise patience as the executive body battles with the Keith Mitchell-led Government on a number of issues.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Lewis said he is under tremendous pressure from teachers to get the near three year old administration to address several of their concerns.
He claimed that GUT has a number of unresolved issues on the table apart from the often bandied about ones like salary increase and increments.
GUT is one of three public sector workers unions that agreed to a wage deferral with government as part of the three-year Structural Adjustment Programme that commenced in 2014.
Lewis indicated that there are people who are not receiving their allowances for acting appointments, while there are those who attained additional qualifications, but were not upgraded.
Another of the issue GUT is fighting is to get teachers who are acting as Principals for a number of years to be regularized with their full appointments.
The GUT Boss believes many more temporary teachers other than the 204 as identified by government, should have received permanent placements in the public service.
The state of the condition of some of the schools is another troubling issue for GUT.
Lewis voiced concern over the physical structure of some schools and the slow pace in which some of the work is being done especially St. Mary’s R.C. at La Fillette in St. Andrew’s.
He also made mention of broken steps at a pre-school in Paradise, St. Andrew’s which the Ministry of Education has been aware of for a long time.
“Besides the national issues like increments and others, we have a number of issues we’re dealing with as teachers, as a union,” Lewis said.
According to the GUT President, some of the issues have been on the table over the duration of his presidency for the past three years, and are yet to be resolved.
“There has to come a time when we would determine what is the best way we go forward in dealing with our issues. We can’t continue to accept, ‘oh we’re working on it, oh yes we understand,’ and nothing is happening,” he told this newspaper.
Lewis said despite having to struggle to get the over-hanging issues addressed, teachers continue to work pointing to the results coming out of various exams during the past school year, but warned that teachers are sensitive of the neglect.
“Teachers know that the union is there and continue to advocate so we have seen heightened activity. We have seen teachers coming out more now. We have seen all our activities are tremendous successes, and so we believe that we have the membership”, he said.
“What we are hesitant to do is engage teachers in any serious way because we’re giving government the opportunity to get its act together,” he added.
Lewis announced that GUT will make its decision on what would be the next step in getting government to address the issues during the union’s upcoming annual conference in the third week of March.
He said the teaching fraternity understand that the executive has been trying to get the issues resolved, “but I know when they’re ready they would say enough is enough and there would come a point where they would be heightened industrial activity by the GUT to resolve most of the issues that surround us.”