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Caribbean updates: Guyana teachers strike

Guyana's ‘GTU not buying into cheap talks; teachers need proper salaries now’  – Coretta McDonald  GTU General Secretary, in response to President Ali’s promises
Guyana’s ‘GTU not buying into cheap talks; teachers need proper salaries now’ Coretta McDonald GTU General Secretary, in response to President Ali’s promises

Just Caribbean Updates
Feb. 8, 2024

The Guyana Teachers Union has maintained its strike for better salaries and working conditions. The stoppage, which started Monday, included teachers nationwide — and was galvanized by opposition from the government, which said the strike was politicized and harmful to student’s welfare. The strike has led to school closures and public demonstrations, with the GTU warning of prolonged action if their issues remain unaddressed.

‘GTU not buying into cheap talks; teachers need proper salaries now’ - – Coretta McDonald,  GTU's General Secretary n response to President Ali’s promises
‘GTU not buying into cheap talks; teachers need proper salaries now’ – Coretta McDonald, GTU’s General Secretary n response to President Ali’s promises (Kaieteur news)

Critics say the GTU had called the strike without exhausting negotiation processes, prompting the government to consider deductions for striking days and potential termination for prolonged strikes​.

The Guyana Ministry of Education halted the deduction of union dues from teachers’ salaries after determining that the strike is unlawful. The government criticizes the strike as politicized and harmful to students’ welfare. (News Room Guyana, Staebroek News) The government recommended the union make alternative arrangements for dues collection, reports Guyana Chronicle.

Despite government and Ministry of Education claims of reaching agreement on most demands, GTU President Mark Lyte insists on collective bargaining for financial matters. (Kaiteur News)

“The educational system is in dire need of reform. There are a lot of colonial era holdovers that do not serve the children nor those teaching them. Teachers are the linchpin to success and development, ensuring their maintenance in a space that desperately needs them is just smart planning”, states Akola Thompson, Sustainable Development scholar and professional from Guyana, in the The Minority Report for Stabroek News.

Red Thread, a Guyanese women’s rights organization, expresses solidarity with low-wage workers, including teachers, amid their strike for fair wages and better conditions. They highlight the importance of collective bargaining and living wages for teachers, who play a critical role in educating children. (Kaiteur News).

The Caribbean and The World 

  • Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in Latin America and the Caribbean is evolving, with a strategic pivot from large-scale agricultural and extractive projects to smaller, more targeted investments in innovation-driven sectors and emerging industries, according to a new report Emerging Trends in Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean published by The Dialogue. This realignment reflects China’s broader economic objectives and its commitment to enhancing global competitiveness through investments in technology and renewable energy, among other areas.

  • CARICOM’s 2023 Statistical meetings in the Bahamas focused on advancing statistical initiatives to enhance policymaking in the region. Key topics discussed included gender statistics, national accounts, and Sustainable Development Goals. A significant outcome was the consensus on moving beyond GDP as a sole measure of progress, recognizing the need for more comprehensive metrics like comprehensive wealth, which includes natural, produced, human, financial, and social capital. (IISD)

  • Kenya intends to lead a U.N.-approved security mission in Haiti to address gang violence, despite a Kenyan court ruling against deployment without a reciprocal agreement with Haiti. President Ruto expects a formal request from Haiti soon, facilitating the mission’s progress. (Reuters)

  • “The Kenyan solution is neither the best nor the only option for the United States in Haiti. The sanctions that have been pursued against a handful of politicians and businessmen involved in the drug trade and gangsterism don’t seem to have changed the situation on the ground”, writes Amy Wilents in The Nation. 

Climate and Environmental Justice 

  • Saint Lucia participated in the First Substantive Session of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group, which took place in January, in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting aimed to consider a technical and evidence-based report of the UN Secretary General on gaps in international environmental law and environment-related instruments. (The Voice)

  • The Caribbean is leveraging green fintech to enhance climate resilience and food security, amidst challenges like climate change and food insecurity. A report by by the Inter-American Development Bank, IDB Invest, and Finnovista highlights fintech’s rapid growth in the region, offering hope for sustainable development. Initiatives include financial inclusion for vulnerable populations, climate-resilient financing, and shock-responsive social protection. (Forbes)

  • A new report published by the Global Mangrove Alliance states that including Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) in mangrove research and management significantly enhances conservation and restoration efforts. Leveraging the insights and practices of local and indigenous communities, grounded in their long-standing experience and understanding of mangrove ecosystems, can lead to more effective, sustainable, and culturally relevant environmental outcomes.

Human Rights

  • Guyana, leading the UN Security Council, continues to advocate for a ceasefire in Gaza amidst the ongoing conflict, despite the lack of consensus among Council members, notably the United States. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Guyana’s permanent representative, emphasizes Guyana’s commitment to humanitarian support in Gaza and the importance of maintaining international peace and security. (Pass Blue)

  • President Dr. Irfaan Ali of Guyana will chair a high-level debate on “The impact of climate change and food insecurity in the maintenance of international peace and security” at the United Nations Security Council this month. Part of Guyana’s efforts to addressing global challenges amid rising conflicts and threats to peace, as highlighted by the wars in Ukraine and Gaza. (Kaiteur News)

  • Pass Blue UN Podcast hosts Damilola Banjo and Olivia Ndubuisi speak with Guyanese Ambassador to the UN Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett about her country’s priorities for the month, since Guyana is taking the UN Security Council presidency in February.

  • “It is time for a profound shift in our approach to economic policies. It is time to integrate human rights into the heart of the international financial architecture.” UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk was speaking during the Sixth Intersessional Meeting of the UN Human Rights Council on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda. (United Nations Human Rights)

  • The SheTrades Caribbean initiative, established by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the International Trade Centre, is designed to empower women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean by improving their access to global markets. This program aims to support over 2,000 women-led small and medium-sized enterprises by 2025, focusing on sectors like Cultural and Creative Industries, Agriculture and Agro Processing, and Tourism. (Kaiteur News)

Technology 

  • The World Food Programme is facilitating the transition to inclusive digital payments for social protection in the Caribbean, focusing on user-centered design, addressing digital and financial literacy barriers, and leveraging technology to empower women and improve efficiency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s acceleration of digital transformation. (World Food Programme)

Energy 

  • ExxonMobil has strategically positioned itself to extract maximum profits from vast oil reserves off the coast of Guyana, employing a multifaceted approach that includes favorable contract negotiations, tax minimization strategies via Dutch subsidiaries, and rapid development of production capabilities. (nrc)

Culture

  • The premiere of the Bob Marley biopic “One Love” in Kingston, Jamaica, was a significant event marked by anticipation and celebration. Figures such as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Megahn, drew significant media attention and discussion about Jamaica’s colonial history and current relationship with the British monarchy. This focus overshadowed the celebration of Bob Marley’s legacy to some extent, sparking debate on Jamaica’s status as a constitutional monarchy and discussions on moving towards becoming a republic. (Global Vocies)

  • The entertainment sector can contribute to environmental conservation by integrating sustainability into Caribbean cultural events. These can be platforms for environmental awareness and action, and calls for more investment to bridge culture and sustainability in the Caribbean. (Global Voices)

  • Suriname book prohibition, which restricts the publication and distribution of a book critical of the government, is not just a local issue but part of a broader global struggle for freedom of expression and press freedom. The prohibition raises concerns about democratic principles, accountability, and transparency, particularly in the context of upcoming elections. (Global Voices)

  • Pablo Delano, a professor of Fine Arts at Trinity College, has been invited to exhibit his work at the prestigious Venice Biennale in April 2024. Delano’s participation in the exhibition, titled “Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere,” is described as a significant recognition of his talent and contributions to the field of visual arts. (Repeating Islands)

  • There is an increasing recognition of artists from the French-speaking West Indies, particularly in the context of the 2024 Venice Biennale. The choice of Martinican artist Julien Creuzet to represent France at the Biennale is seen as a significant step towards acknowledging the artistic contributions of the region and addressing ongoing tensions surrounding France’s colonial legacy. (Repetaing Islands)

  • The inauguration of the AAMS film studio in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, marks a significant milestone for the local and international film industry. Boasting state-of-the-art facilities and a substantial investment of approximately $5 million, AAMS is poised to become a cornerstone of cinematic and multimedia production in the region. (Repeating Islands)

Opportunities 

  • In cooperation with Our Ocean Greece, the Ministry of Environment and Energy from Greece and and SOA, the Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit (OOYLS) 2024 is set to take place in Athens, Greece, from April 15-17. Apply

Events

Just Caribbean Updates
https://caribbeannewsupdates.blogspot.com/

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