The previous negotiation process between the Education Ministry and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) took a wrong turn last year and landed thousands of teachers on strike but this time around President of the Union, Mark Lyte said he hopes the Ministry learnt its lesson and does not allow the same situation to reoccur.Lyte was at the time speaking to this publication on Tuesday, as he gave an update on the talks the two bodies have had so far to increase the salaries of public school teachers.GTU President, Mark LyteAccording to him, GTU and the Ministry had only one discussion so far, which has been fruitful. “It was fruitful in that we were able to set some timelines and so on that we want to get stuff done. We basically agreed to have some other submissions so I would consider it as a fruitful first engagement. The negotiations have now started so we have to present our argument but we didn’t get into all of that,” Lyte explained.He noted that the two bodies were supposed to meet on April 15, but the Union was unable to attend as it is currently hosting a conference. As such, another meeting with the Ministry has been organised for April 30, where the Education Ministry will present a counter-proposal.Education Minister Nicolette HenryThe President of the Union said, “The other submissions that were required, inclusive of a counter-proposal on the part of the Ministry, and remember we did our proposal, so we requested a counter-proposal and we had to submit some additional documents which we did”.He was keen to note that the Teachers’ Union is looking forward to moving the pace a little faster than the last time. It was here that Ltye said, “It shouldn’t be the way it was the last time so we hope that lessons were learnt and we won’t have to go down the road that went the last time. So we are positive about the outcome”.The Union Head further noted that he is positive and is entering these discussions with the Ministry with a positive mind-set but will be assessing its moves closely.In February, GTU submitted a proposal to the Ministry for a 25 per cent pay hike for teachers.Lyte, in a previous interview, told Guyana Times that in this new proposal, the Union requested that some of the already existing policies be maintained such as Whitley Council for three years, instead of four, and a few others.This proposal also requests that grants be given to schools instead of having materials supplied as complaints have been flagged in the past of sub-standard materials and cleaning supplies.In addition to this, the President of the Union disclosed that the Union also requested the maintenance of duty-free concessions in the existing categories.Moreover, the new proposal seeks to extend gratuity for persons leaving the profession before the age of 50 to 55, while the issue of class size for special needs schools was highlighted.However, just mere months before, when the new school term began in September, benches were left empty as the classrooms remained unoccupied, as teachers took to the streets to protest for better wages.GTU had initially asked the Ministry for a 40 per cent raise on teachers’ salary but later settled for a 12 and eight per cent increase for the years 2016 and 2018, respectively.