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Alliance of Change member and Member of Parliament (MP), Mr. David Patterson, is reminding the Irfaan Ali administration of the public servants’ cry for a livable wage in the fastest growing economy in this hemisphere. The International Monetary Fund, in a Report released in September, said the economy’s overall real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate is projected to be 57.8 per cent in 2022.
According to the Fund, “Guyana’s commercially recoverable petroleum reserves is expected to reach over 11 billion barrels, one of the highest levels per capita in the world [and] this could help Guyana build up substantial fiscal and external buffers to absorb shocks while addressing infrastructure gaps and human development needs.” Revenue sale from oil this year is projected at US$1.1 Billion. Non-oil GDP is projected around eight (8) per cent in 2022.
In a letter on the party’s website the MP said as Guyanese approach the Christmas season, public servants are waiting with bated breath for the annual lotto results to be announced – aka annual wage increases, back pay or bonus. To wit he drew attention to some numbers to ponder: –
“For a public servant earning the minimum wage of $70,000 to enjoy a single cash take home payment of $150,000, equivalent to what the fisherfolks received earlier this month – they will need an 18% increase (payable retroactively from January, with no deductions for GRA or NIS contributions).
“For the same minimum wage public servant to receive a single cash payout $250,000 as given to the sugar workers earlier this year, they will have to be granted a 30% wage increase for the twelve months of this year, again with no deductions.
“For a public servant earning $100,000 to receive the same as his brothers and sisters in the fishing and sugar industries, he/she will have to receive retroactive wage increases with no deductions of 12.5% and 22.5% respectively.”
Speaking to the issue further, Patterson asked society to think of the quality of life for public servants who pay $40,000 rent, $5,000 water and light bills, transportation for a family of two paying $8,800 ($200 a day per person) and have $17,000 left for two persons to eat for the rest of the month. Using these conservative rates, said he, in a simple family of two, with no other bills included, at the current prices, this is a serious social issue.
Repeated calls on the government by public servants, teachers and individuals to engage in collective bargaining with the trade unions and pay public sector workers a living wage continue to be ignored. Article 147 of the Constitution of Guyana guarantees the right to collective bargaining for workers where a trade union exists. This is a right that has been violated by successive governments.
The two-year-old Ali administration continues to ignore proposals submitted by the public service and teachers’ unions for increase wages and salary and improve conditions of work. The Guyana Public Service Union has taken the government to court asking the court to have the government respect the right. The court is yet to pronounce.
In the meantime, government continues to pay out cash grants to fisher folks; former sugar workers, some of whom have been rehired; farmers and groups they considered supporters.
Turning the ‘one Guyana’ slogan back on the administration Patterson opined, that “[n]o doubt a government that practices OneGuyana policies, will view our public servants at the same level of need as our fisherfolks and sugar workers and will ensure that this year’s wage increases will see all our hard-working citizens receives equal compensation for their efforts and moreso a livable wage in the fastest growing economy in this hemisphere.”