Guyana teachers threatening industrial action

 Guyana’s education system could be thrown into chaos on Monday, after the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) called on its members to take industrial action to protest the government’s vaccination policy regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The GTU is among trade unions here, including the Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) filing a motion in the High Court here urging it to set aside the government’s policy on vaccination that they says is intended to force workers to become vaccinated against the virus.

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GTU Vice President Mark Lyte, told reporters that the industrial action would be taken, if any unvaccinated teacher is turned away from school

“We will be monitoring very closely what will take place at our various schools and if one teacher is prevented from accessing the school, we are advising our members that all of us must withdraw our service and let us see who will teach the children,” he told reporters as the union staged a picket outside the Ministry of Education building.

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He said people enjoy individual choices and should not be compelled to disclose their medical history to anyone, urging that the Ministry of Education consult with teachers and take their concerns to the President and Cabinet.

The unions want the High Court to quash the COVID-19 Emergency Measures (No. 20) Notice dated the 29th day of July, 2021 and published in the Extraordinary Publication of the Official Gazette dated the 29th day of July, 2021.

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Those measures require government workers and public transportation providers, among others, to be vaccinated or have in their possession a recent negative PCR test before they can enter their workplaces, transact business with government agencies or provide transportation services.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall is the respondent in the matter in which the trade unions are also asking that the government bear the cost of a COVID-19 testing regime for State employees until the determination of the Fixed Date Application.

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Education Minister Priya Manickchand said she was confident that many schools would be manned by teachers who have been vaccinated.

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