Teachers’ salary negotiationsThe awaited arbitration panel which will decide on the teachers’ salaries and wages impasse, will be discussed today as the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) meets with the Education Ministry to iron out the final kinks.Education Minister Nicolette HenryAll teachers who were on strike also returned for duty officially on Monday, while some were back in the classrooms from as early as last Friday. Several calls made by Guyana Times to executives of the Union went unanswered.Nonetheless, the Government gave in to arbitration on Thursday during the second round of conciliation talks, being mediated by Minister Keith Scott under the Social Cohesion’s Ministry, Labour Department.This process will see the two parties both agreeing on an independent body, to address the issues affecting teachers at present.GTU Presiden Mark LyteGTU President Mark Lyte described the meeting last Thursday as a “good day”. In smiles, he explained that the Union was insisting on arbitration from day one.“From day one we insisted that this matter should go to arbitration and we have achieved that today, much to the pleasure of our members… we did not feel like this process would have served us well, the conciliation,” he had said.His comments came at a time where some 400 teachers were on strike after several talks failed between the two parties with regards to a salary increase for teachers.Strike action became effective from August 27, during preterm activities and was accompanied by nationwide protests from thousands of teachers, which alternatively affected students in various schools.While some schools were open, with few teachers present, others remained on complete shutdown.Education Minister, Nicolette Henry had deployed some 400 substitute teachers during the period, which included retired, trainee and volunteer teachers.A 40 per cent salary increase for public school teachers was proposed for the year 2016. Over time, the percentage would be increased for all categories of represented teachers.For the year 2017, the Union was hoping to have bargained for a 45 per cent increase, which would then increase to 50 per cent for the remainder of the years indicated in the agreement (2018-2020).They recently changed their demands and said they were willing to accept a ‘substantial’ payout from the Government even after the GTU rejected Government’s request for teachers to agree to a debunching payoff of $200 million for 2018/19.Lyte said the Union similarly rejected the $700 million cap that was placed on salary increases which was for 2018 only. Government also wants the clothing allowance to remain at $8000, a figure which Lyte said was given in 2011. He said, too, that for Whitley Council Leave, teachers still have to wait four years before getting their one month off, even though the GTU appealed for that period to be reduced to three years.