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…GPSU accuses gov’t of ignoring their plight
The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) said despite the steep increase in cost of living linked to the economic fallout amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the salaries of public servants have remained stagnant for more than two years.
“Employees of the Public Service have not enjoyed any increases in pay or earnings since January 2019. This situation is compounded in many respects because of Covid-19 and the necessary precautions workers are required to consider in their own health and safety, which results in significant increase in expenditures coupled with rise in cost of living,” the Union said on Tuesday.
It said on the campaign trail ahead of the 2020 General and Regional Elections, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had vowed to increase the salaries of public servants by 50% but close to a year after taking office, it has not made good on its commitment, though a proposal was put forward by the union.
“As cost of living skyrockets, Government has seemingly ignored the cry of the working class by “turning a deaf ear” to the requirements for bargaining and consensus. As such, the working class is made to suffer without any hope of timely redress. Only yesterday, the price of gasoline was increased by $8.00 per litre, adding more pressure to workers’ woes,” GPSU said in a statement.
It said the government has vacillated with the payment of a risk allowance to critical frontline workers of the public service, even though agreed to in principle previously by both sides.
In relation to bargaining for increased salaries and allowances, the GPSU has sent reminders to the Government representatives calling on them to respect their obligations under the legally binding “Agreement for the Avoidance and Settlement of Disputes” by commencing negotiations.
Union said failure to respond to its concerns, seems to convey the impression that they are inviting a confrontation.
“The GPSU recognizes that all workers have a right to a living wage and as the representative of Public Sector workers the GPSU has sought to be as non-confrontational as possible, but candid and strong in its representations for good governance, national unity, human rights, fair treatment and evenhandedness.
In this regard, the GPSU has always advocated that the Government must lead by example, uphold the rule of law and conduct itself consistent with its Oath of office. Sadly, this has not been the case,” GPSU said.
It said over the past decades, it had cause to mobilize its members and law abiding citizens to enforce the rule of law but this ought not to be.
The Union said while the Irfaan Ali Administration has been generous in its contributions to Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines, where to its credit a timely humanitarian response was made, and has approved $200M for GUYSUCO and its workers, public servants, in general, have been left out in the cold.
“It therefore seems that there is a well-orchestrated plan to suffocate workers in the Public Sector and by extension their families. Such acts are inhumane and cruel, in the very least. Why is Government so boldly resisting the cries for a better wage for its workers in Healthcare, Aviation, Agriculture and Drainage and Irrigation, Education, Judiciary and Law Enforcement, Finance, Accounting and Auditing, Revenue Collection and other service sectors?
Why are pensioners, who have given yeoman service to the nation, treated so scantily and inhumanely to the extent that some currently live on the streets? Why is Government putting politics and profit over caring for its people? It is time to expose the hypocrisy. Clearly, what we are experiencing is not a genuine policy of evenhandedness and equal treatment for all,” the Union reasoned.
The Union said it would appear that the Government’s obligation is also to the Business Sector and not the working class. It said this is evident across the country where the COVID-19 measures are “free up” to facilitate businesses.
“Also the workers should be provided with the justification as to why corporate taxes of 25% is less than PAYE which is 28% at the lowest level and why has the government not increased the national minimum wage – all these matters are connected. Why is a government that had claimed to have working class credentials, displaying such anti-working persecution?” the Union further questioned.
GPSU is calling on the Government to change its “unconscionable, uncaring and insensitive” approach in addressing the welfare of public servants, the premier workforce – the frontline workforce.