Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
…chides President for failure to negotiate with union on wages, vaccination policy
The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), on Monday, reminded President Irfaan Ali that he is not above the law even as it slammed the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government over its imposition of the COVID-19 vaccine on public servants, and its consistent refusal to negotiate with the union.
“Governments, must understand that they are not above the Law and should be prepared to operate with dignity and respect for the Rule of Law by setting examples that all should follow. For decades PPP/C Governments have been deceptive and evasive, even sidelining the workers and their representative, GPSU,” the Union said in a statement on Monday.
The statement comes approximately one week after President Ali, while announcing future increases in salaries, indicated that he will speak directly with public servants while offering no clear indication whether or not his Government is prepared to meet with GPSU to negotiate conditions of work and increase in wages and salaries for public servants.
GPSU said the Constitution of Guyana as well as the Labour Amendment Act of 1984 and the Trade Union Recognition Act of 1997 outlines clearly the legal manner in which the Government ought to negotiate with the Union.
“It should be noted that the Trade Union Recognition Act was enacted by a PPP/C Administration and successive PPP/C Governments have conveniently breached the prescriptions of the enactment…They have repeatedly appropriated funds in Parliament to improve the earnings of Public Servants without utilizing the mechanisms provided in the Laws and binding agreements, a conduct and practice openly recognized by workers and their Representative Union,” the union explained.
It said the Ali Administration has proven to be no different from the previous PPP/C Governments.
GPSU said though the PPP/C Government campaigned on a commitment to increase wages and salaries by 50% it is yet to do so more than a year after entering Office.
“The President boasted of his Government’s first year successes, but forgot to give the workers kudos for these successes, given that Workers, not the politicians in Government, were the engines of implementation since there could be no successes without the workers. Mr. President, it is the dedicated, committed and underpaid Public Servants that contributed these successes, even though your representative team are vacillating on the future of these outstanding workers,” the Union said.
Turning its attention to the mandatory vaccination requirement being imposed by the Government, GPSU said the new measure is another way to oppress the working class.
“It is important for all to understand the level of workers’ oppression with which the current Government is engaged, which takes away the Fundamental Rights to choose. The Ministers of Health and Labour indicated that the COVID-19 vaccines are not mandatory. However recent advisories to workers and the public indicate that unvaccinated persons would not be granted entry into the Ministries, unless an expensive precondition is met,” the Union reasoned.
It added: “This manipulative precondition strikes at the core of the peoples’ “wallet,” which of course would cause them to yield to Government’s demands for vaccination. The reincarnation of oppression is once again being imposed upon the people, taking away their fundamental rights as upheld by the Constitution. In this grand scheme, the COVID-19 vaccination programme becomes the tool through which unyielding workers would be denied the opportunity of earning or providing food for their families, access to public services, recreation and even shelter, since this draconian measure has been designed to make the unyielding penniless.”
GPSU said these violations of workers’ rights, labour laws and the constitutions are taking place as the CARICOM Leaders and Diplomatic Community watch silently along with those who championed democracy during the 2020 Elections.