Minister of Climate Resilience, Senator Simon Stiell has blasted the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) for continuing with its protest action of “Work To Rule” while taking government to court on the deduction of salaries from striking teachers in November.
Speaking at the weekly held post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex on Tuesday, Sen. Stiell also directed his attack on those school principals and teachers who are still in industrial action mode over the hosting of the zonal rounds of the National Secondary School Games.
The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration decided to organise the games as a substitute for the annual Intercol sports that was cancelled by the Secondary Schools Principal association as part of the “Work To Rule” action.
Sen. Stiell echoed the sentiments of other ministers on the issue, saying that the ‘work to rule’ action by what he described as “the few” principals and teachers is only hurting and “disenfranchising our children”.
He said: It’s denying them (students) the opportunity to showcase their athletic talents, it’s denying an opportunity for parents to see how students perform at the highest level in our athletics schools calendar and we all recognise this is an important part of our children’s education and their personal development”.
According to Sen. Stiell, the decision taken by GUT to enforce the ‘Work to Rule’ and to institute court action at the same time against government “makes no sense”.
“We recognise that it’s an employee’s right in an industrial dispute to withdraw labour subject to following the correct procedures as laid out in the Labour Code, but we also have to recognise it is an employer right to deduct pay, to deduct salaries from those days that are not worked and government is absolutely clear on this principle.
But as we know, the Grenada Union of Teachers has challenged this principle and put the matter in the hands of the court – this too is their right – but to take the matter to court and to work to rule at the same time actually makes no sense.
“… All this does as I said earlier, is it negatively affects our children and those principals and those teachers must realise that they cannot have their cake and eat it. You cannot challenge something in the court, yet continue to take action which is affecting our children.
“The question that needs to be asked is what if the courts rule in the government’s favour, we can’t turn back the time, we cannot make up the time lost, the opportunities lost for our children, the services, the education that they are being denied in this industrial action.
“So, this is something that has to be called out. It is affecting the future of our children. Again, you cannot have your cake and eat it – we must do, we must always do what is in our children’s best interest.