By Arret Jatta
The Gambia Teachers Union (GTU) called off a Teachers’ Strike to allow negotiations to progress with the Government. This was announced to the media at a press conference held at the GTU Headquarters in Kanifing on 9th January 2023.
Explaining the reasons for calling off the strike GTU President Mr Ismaila Sowe explained that the strike has been called off for now. However, the strike has affected the plans of numerous schools that were scheduled to re-open last week because of the low teacher attendance.
The president of the GTU Ismaila Sowe said that they had a fruitful discussion and also to sign the agreement so that both parties can play their part because they are not going to compromise on any one of their demands.
GTU President Mr Sowe revealed that “today’s discussion at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education where we were supposed to sign the agreement but other development came up regarding certain demands that we agreed upon, like the 30% salary increment reflecting it on the allowance so literally all our demands were met,” he said.
The acting Secretary General of the GTU Mr Essa Sowe highlighted that they have 9 demands and out of these 9 demands government agreed to meet 3 demands.
According to him, these are some of their demands:
- Rich classification of schools, “because quite a big number of schools in our country are not classified” he said.
- Teachers are not being paid double shift allowance.
- Caretakers are not being paid for the double shift they work for.
- The review of percentages of double shift allowance to regional office directorates.
- Teachers engaged in the invigilation of the grade twelve WASSCE exam are to be compensated.
After the meeting with Government officials, the GTU came up with the resolutions outlined below;
RESOLUTIONS OF GTU-MoBSE- MINISTRY OF PUBLIC SERVICE – EMERGENCY MEETING HELD ON SATURDAY 7TH JANUARY 2023
At the end of the meeting, it was resolved that:
- MoBSE to work on the re-classification of schools, including Senior Secondary Schools that are mature to be reclassified as ‘Board’ schools;
- PMO agreed for auxiliary staff working at Regional Education Directorates and schools operating double shifts to be compensated for the additional hours/services they work for. A Taskforce has been established by MoBSE to work on the modalities. In addition to this, MoBSE shall work on the initial 50% salary Increment that was not applied to ancillary staff including Caretakers. In this regard, GTU will provide the list of affected staff;
- PMO acknowledges the need to review the percentages of double shift allowances for non-teaching staff at Regional Education Directorates. It was reported that MoBSE has started this work which is currently in progress;
- On the matter of delinking of Percentage-based Allowances, in respect of the 30% salary increment, PMO has noted the observation of the GTU and commits itself to engage the Ministry of Finance with a view to regularizing the case of affected staff. In lieu of re-linking percentage-based allowances, graduate and retention allowances for teachers will also be reviewed at an appropriate moment;
- MoBSE has considered the need to pay Invigilation Allowance for GABECE and WASSCE. However, together with relevant stakeholders including the GTU, it will work out the modalities for such;
- PMO has agreed for MoBSE to review and re-submit the new hardship expansion scheme initiated by MoBSE for consideration. In addition to the above; and
- PMO has agreed to open up to teachers in subvented schools to access the Civil Service Revolving Loan Scheme.
According to GTU Officials, the reason for the strike was to ensure that their demands are taken into consideration and now that they have an agreement with the government, there is no need for the strike however if the government fails to keep their end of the bargain, the strike will resume.