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…backed by FITUG, GTUC…no plans to attend conciliation talksBy Rupadai SeenaraineInfuriated by the remarks recently made by the junior Social Protection Minister Keith Scott, the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) is demanding an apology, adding that it confirms their conviction of the Labour Department’s position on the salary increase situation. It was reported in sections of the media that the Minister blatantly referred to the teachers as being “selfish and uncaring” because of their decision to strike for better wages and benefits. This remark triggered a response from the GTU, demanding that the Minister apologise for his choice of words.Speaking to a large gathering of teachers on Monday, GTU General Secretary, Coretta McDonald stated that this comes in light of the fact that the Union had expressed their uncertainty towards the Labour Department last week when asked to be the mediator in their dispute with the Education Ministry.“We serve an Almighty God and did you recognise what he did. He confused the Honourable Keith Scott and allowed him to make a statement in support of us. We said to them on Friday and Thursday, we have no faith in the Department of Labour and they were upset with us. They said we were disrespectful,” said McDonald as she charged the teachers to stand by their decision.She explained that the action by the Minister proves that their suspicions were accurate, and any decision taken by the department would have been biased or in favour of the Education Ministry during the process. Loud cheers emanated at GTU headquarters as the teachers pledged their support and acknowledged what was said.“Imagine the people who want to mediate in between this story already taking sides and then they want us, the teachers who would’ve created all professions to trust them,” the General Secretary added.At that time, McDonald sought to point out that they will uphold their decision towards the continuation of the strike with no intention or interest in attending the conciliation talks which were organised by the Ministry. It was further indicated that they have “forgiven” the Minister for his comments.“The Minister himself said it. So what else do we want? Do we want to go to conciliation? No, we’re not silly people. We are the educated ones. We’re teaching them. We will not retreat until respect is given to us. Teachers have always been caring but the boy get mix up with the words. We’ll forgive him. We understand that process.”Defending the actions to strike for increased salary and better benefits, it was repeated that educators are being subjected to minimal wages while performing beyond the call of duty. Additionally, the “selfish and” uncaring” remark does not mirror the performance of the students in both the primary and secondary levels.“We are being paid the lowest of the scale and imagine we’re ‘selfish and uncaring’ and every year Guyana topping at CSEC? This year we would’ve had improvements in Maths and English at CSEC and at the CSEC level,” the General Secretary posited.“Imagine our Labour Department will turn to say that teachers are selfish and uncaring. Where is our Minister Keith Scott when our nursery school teachers are present at 06:30h in the mornings? Where is the Honourable Nicolette Henry when our teachers are at school at 03:30h in the afternoon?” she questioned.Meanwhile, calls for an apology on the part of the Minister were also echoed from the Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Guyana (FITUG) and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), who asserted that Minister Scott’s statement required an apology.“This most astonishing statement by the Minister, who incidentally is responsible for the Department of Labour, is a clear demonstration of the Administration’s concern for the workers plight and troubles that have beset them in the era of the ‘Good Life’ coalition. The statement by the Minister, in our view, further unmasks the APNU/AFC Government and it reveals its true colours,” FITUG stated on Monday.An appeal was also made for the President David Granger to give ‘serious consideration and profound thought’ as to whether Scott is suited to serve as the political head of the Labour Department.Meanwhile, the GTUC said this is not the first time such utterances were made by the Minister and further sought to ask the perceptible question as to whether this is also a representation of the Government’s position on the matter.Educators from all corners of the country are currently protesting for ‘a liveable wage’ and they were seen protesting in front of schools, ministries and education departments on the first day of the academic year.
A 17-year-old girl, along with a driver were killed, while another is seriously injured after the car in which they were travelling hit a culvert and landed in a trench at Zeeland, Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara on Monday.Dead are Michael “Aubrey” Ross of Skeldon, Corentyne Berbice; the driver of the car; and Jennifer Park of Lot 25 Manchester Village, Corentyne, Berbice.The injured woman has been identified as 24-year-old Judy Park, the sister of the now dead teen while another occupant of the car, Kevin Madray escaped unhurt. Judy Park is presently receiving medical attention at the Mahaicony Cottage Hospital.Based on reports received, the motorcar in which the four were travelling, was heading to Berbice from Georgetown when the driver attempted to overtake a low-bed vehicle transporting machinery but was forced to retreat after a vehicle was approaching in the opposite direction.However, as the driver attempted to retrieve from overtaking, the motorcar collided with the right side of the lorry, causing it to flip several times, crashed into the culvert and ended up in the trench where it submerged.The injured Judy Park was pulled from the wreckage. Ross and Jennifer Park remained submerged but by the time they were pulled from the car, they had already died. The duo was pronounced dead on arrival at the Mahaicony Cottage Hospital. Guyana Times was told that the now dead teenager was accepted to the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and was accompanied by her sister to see her get settled into her new accommodations.The car after it was pulled from the trenchWhen contacted, Ernest Park, father of the dead teen told this publication that his daughters left home on Monday morning to travel to CPCE but upon arriving at the institution, they were told that admission was rescheduled to another date.“Jennifer was supposed to be admitted to CPCE this morning (Monday) but when she turned up with all her personal belongings, they told her that they were not taking in anyone today (Monday),” the father added.Having all her luggage there and thinking about the hassle of travelling back with them when they are ready, the teenager reportedly asked a staff if she can at least secure some of her belongs but was told she could not leave anything on campus and that she will have to take them with her and return.The aggrieved father noted that he last spoke with his daughters at about 12:10h when they informed him of what transpired. At the same time, they told him that the same car that took them to Georgetown will collect them and take them back home.He received the dreaded news at about 14:00h. He recalled that his injured daughter, Judy Park, telephoned and informed him of the accident. “She told me that they were coming home when the car crashed into a bridge and ended up in a trench… Judy told me that she and a guy made it out of the car before it went under the water… By the time assistance came, Jennifer and Michael were dead,” he recalled.He further stated that his daughter is a former student of President’s College and was eagerly waiting to start her teaching career.Ross on the other hand, Guyana Times understands is a well-known driver in the area.This publication also leant that one of his brothers holds a senior position in the Guyana Police Force. Investigations into the accident are continuing. (Bhisham Mohamed)