…says it will not be “bullied”, arbitration “best bet”The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) will go ahead with its planned countrywide strike, with teachers expected to take to the streets after Government failed to meet their demand of a 40 per cent salary increase.President of GTU, Mark Lyte, told Guyana Times on Sunday that since there was no contact from Government since last Thursday, the strike will go on as planned.“The strike will continue until further notice,” he stated, but added that the Union is always open for discussion. Teachers are seeking increases of 40 per cent under a multi-year arrangement up to 2020. However, Government has maintained that it just cannot afford this proposal, offering a 2018-2019 pay off.A third round of conciliation between the Education Ministry and the GTU on Thursday last ended again in impasse, as both parties refuse to budge on their position. At this point in time, Lyte said the Union feels arbitration might be the bestPresident David Grangeroption going forward.“We think arbitration is the best bet; we are open for other options but none has been put forward by Government. But we are not going to be bullied,” insisted the GTU President.Last week during a press conference, President David Granger said the countrywide strike by the Union is premature as he urged that there be full mediation and possibly arbitration before such extreme action is taken.“We feel that a strike is an extreme measure and it should only be applied as a last resort. Before we reach to the stage of a strike, there should be some form of mediation and if mediation fails, we can go to arbitration. But I think it’s premature to speak of a strike at this stage [when] we are still, on the Government side, aiming at mediation. I do not believe mediation has failed,” he told reporters.Nevertheless, the Head of State said his Government is actively searching for fresh sources of funding to satisfy teachers’ needs.Meanwhile, the Social Protection Ministry through its Labour Department has been overseeing the so far failed negotiations between the Education Ministry and the GTU. However, the Union had earlier expressed no confidence in this labour team since it comprised Government officers who were advocating on the Education Ministry’s behalf.The GTU’s view has worsened after it was reported in a local newspaper that Labour Minister Keith Scott had allegedly called the striking teachers “uncaring” and “selfish”. In response to this statement, Lyte posited that it just reaffirms the Union’s position.“It confirms our position on the [Social Protection Ministry], it confirms that we can’t trust them and that the Ministry is compromised,” the GTU President asserted.Even as the GTU proceeds with its planned countrywide strike, the Education Ministry in the meantime has devised a ‘contingency plan’ which will see the striking teachers being replaced in classrooms with recent Cyril Potter College Education (CPCE) graduates, trainees and retired teachers. In fact, the Education Ministry has issued an “urgent” notice inviting substitute teachers for Georgetown.However, former CPCE lecturer and Mathematics teacher, Tamashwar Boodhoo has stated that this move by Government could run against stipulations. “Someone has not done their homework and provide poor advice to this poor lady. Trainee teachers cannot take school registers. The law is clear you must be employed by the TSC (Teaching Service Commission) or the school board or the Ministry of Education in order to do take attendance in school,” Boodhoo noted.He pointed out that a register is a legal document that can be used in the courts and that there are guidelines that govern the marking of attendance registers. He further claimed that trainee teachers are “not allowed to make daily log entries in the school log book” adding that retired teachers are similarly prohibited unless they are issued contracts.Boodhoo stressed that “there is nothing in the training manual” that allows for first-year trainee unsupervised practice in the classroom. “I am disappointed that the CPCE administration agrees to put the trainees in the classroom unsupervised. It was the same administration that had trainees repeat classroom practices because of unsupervised practicum,” he pointed out.
As the generation of gay men and lesbians who came out in the 1960s and ’70s reaches retirement age, about a dozen specialized senior developments across the country are either up and running or in the works. In such senior-heavy locales as California, Arizona and Florida, as well as less traditionally gay-friendly places like North Carolina and Texas, builders have found a market in a segment of the gay population that worries getting old will mean going back in the closet. “In a retirement community, you want to be with people of like minds and like interests, whether it’s a golf community or a religious community,” said Bonnie McGowan, who is spearheading Birds of a Feather, a second gay senior complex in New Mexico. “Until I feel safe walking down the street holding a woman’s hand … and not feel like I’m going to offend even one person, there is a need for this.” Besides personal safety, specialists in gay aging issues offer other reasons why the so-called Stonewall Generation, named for the 1969 New York riots that marked the beginning of the modern gay liberation movement, needs and craves places of its own to retire. Among them are the years of stigma and isolation many gays who are over 50 experienced, that may have left them estranged from their families, financially insecure and childless. SAN FRANCISCO – Like other gay men in their golden years, Jack Norris and Seymour Sirota had heard the horror stories. An elderly lesbian couple is housed on separate floors of a nursing home and kept from seeing each other. A gay retired college professor feels compelled to keep his sexual orientation a secret after his roommate at an assisted living facility asks to be transferred. “I thought, `We are not going to be in that situation,”‘ the 67-year-old Norris says crisply. “This is not going to happen to us in our final days.” That’s how the two New Yorkers, partners for 14 years, landed at Rainbow Vision, a just-completed senior community in Santa Fe, N.M. From the private dining room named after Truman Capote to the cabaret where ’60s teen icon Lesley “It’s My Party” Gore is scheduled to appear this weekend, everything about the 146-unit retirement village was designed with the comfort of graying gays and lesbians in mind. “There is a real sense of disenfranchisement and also a sense of independence, of `I don’t want to be dependent on family, I want to be dependent on community,”‘ said Judy Dlugacz, founder of the San Francisco-based lesbian travel company Olivia Cruises and Resorts. Olivia is currently scouting land in the Palm Springs area for what Dlugacz hopes will be the first of several high-end resort communities geared toward mature lesbians who are looking either for a vacation home or a place to retire. Joy Silver, developer of Rainbow Vision, also plans to expand to Palm Springs, a desert community already popular with gay tourists. “Back in the day, we could identify each other because the only place to be gay was a gay bar,” said Silver, who views her Santa Fe property as somewhere for Baby Boomer gays to live the second half of their lives as residents of a majority. “Now, we have more options and we may be more out, but it’s still going to be hard to find friends or partners,” she said. “It doesn’t help to live in a gay-friendly community without any other gay people.” Along with second chances – Silver is planning to throw a prom party “for those of us who didn’t go to senior prom with the person we wanted to” – Rainbow Vision was designed to foster a sense of belonging. The fitness center was named after lesbian tennis pioneer Billie Jean King, for example, while services for those requiring ongoing medical care reflect lessons learned from the AIDS crisis. The 26 rented assisted living units comprise a section of the complex called The Castro, after the San Francisco neighborhood that has long been a center of gay culture. Steven David, a postdoctoral psychology fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, who counsels and researches older gay men, said the concept of gay senior housing gets mixed reviews from his clients. He has spoken to some who think living in a gay environment sounds fun and others who think it sounds awful, “just like some straight people like retirement communities and some don’t.” Meanwhile, some in his field oppose the idea of separate communities for gay seniors, which also have taken off in Canada and parts of Europe, as voluntary self-segregation.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!