Gambia Teachers Union (GTU) was awaken to active business on the welfare of
teachers by disgruntled members of the union under the banner, ‘Teachers for
Change’. The group which emerged through social media platform announced its
plan to prolong the Christmas school holiday until they receive positive
attention from the government.
The meeting which took place at the Regional Education Directorate in Brikama on Thursday brought top management of the teachers’ governing body to intense negotiation with the non protocol oriented group of teachers.
In his address, chairman of the Teachers for Change, Abubacarr Janko said teachers from various regions across the country have agreed to carry on sit-down strike starting Jan. 8 until their demands are responded to.
The conditions to restore teaching and learning according to him, include salary increment, full payment of double shift allowance, payment of hardship allowances to teacher trainees, end to late payments, and provision of identity cards to teachers.
This movement of mainly young teachers made its decision without the involvement of the official teacher governing body, on notion that the union is not efficient and does not respect the welfare of its members.
President of The Gambia Teachers’ Union, Matin Gomez endorsed all demands made by members of the teaching fraternity but quickly appealed to them to employ the right means to achieve them their goals. He also acknowledged the fact that membership of the union continues to grow in size but his administration is confronted with structural loopholes. “We are doing everything possible to improve the working condition of our members and that some of your demands are already on the union’s development agenda.”
Mr. Gomez noted that the teachers union has in the past been supportive to government in the timely payment of teachers’ salaries and allowances through the credit union with hope of a reciprocal relationship.
Deputy secretary general of the union, Essa Sowe, commended the leadership and members of the Teachers for Change for their eventual involvement of the union on the demands. He informed the meeting that his office has been busy pushing the interest of teachers but there was yet to solid response from the new government.
After thorough review of the conditions for the planned strike, Mr Sowe appealed to the teachers to give the union time to engage the government through the ministries of education on the demands. “So if the demands are basis for the strike, Monday 8 January is too near for a response to the demands due to the numerous processes involved in it”, he stated.
The taskforce committee for the group has called off the planned strike and urged its members to return to work until further notice. “All members loyal to our struggle are urged to respect the decision. The taskforce is convinced that The Gambia Teachers Union (GTU) will continue to pursue our demands to the authorities concerned and send us feedbacks”, says Abdoulie Jallow, secretary general to the group.In a similar instance, The Education students of the University of The Gambia (UTG) are due to meet the management of the Gambia Teachers Union Credit co-operative Credit Union (GTUCCU) to settle key matters of concern to teachers on Wednesday at the Brikama campus. They are expected to discuss the recent increment of closing balance from D4, 000 to D6, 000, and complexities in loan transactions.