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President Irfaan Ali recently met with Dawn Gardener, First Vice President, of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) but provided no assurance the Government will commence the process of collective bargaining with the Union who represents the majority of workers in the public sector.
The president made known, via the Department of Public Information, that his government assured the Union that it is committed to ensuring the workers’ “best possible welfare.” Included in that welfare is respecting the workers’ fundamental right to collective bargaining as enshrined in Article 147 of the Constitution of Guyana, and treating with the Union consistent with Sect 23(1) of the Trade Union Recognition Certification Act.
President Ali told the Union leadership that “the engagement was not a bargaining meeting but rather for the two sides to share and discuss views on how they could resolve the challenges faced by public servants.”
According to the President “it is not only about salaries, it is about a comprehensive strategy. Workers must be able to own their own homes, they must be able to access better standards in terms of health, education, support for their children going to school. So, it is a collective mechanism.”
Collective bargaining includes all the President is talking about, said one trade unionist, and the president would be best served if he advises himself, or his advisors so advise him, and he acts accordingly.
The two-year Ali government has refused, thus far, to respect the basic rights of workers. Last month the GPSU took the government, who is the employer of public servants, to court for failing to observe various conventions, laws and regulations that ensure the rights of public service workers.