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Statement by Ms. Coretta McDonald
General Secretary, Guyana Teachers Union; President, Guyana Trades Union Congress; Member of Parliament (APNU+AFC)
I read with discomfort, despair, and disgust the announcement made by President Irfaan Ali. It is reprehensible and unacceptable that at this most critical time in the history of our country, where Guyana has been dubbed the Dubai of the Caribbean with the fastest growing economy, that the sitting President would yet again dish out on the ordinary hard-working citizens of this land an imposed across the board 8% increase in salaries.
What is even more alarming is that this meagre increase will be taxed when the rate of inflation is way over 50%. This to my mind speaks volumes of how the working class is viewed and valued by this administration. They have shown blatant disregard for the rule of law and the labour principles which speak to Collective Bargaining.
This act of disrespect for the working class has left a taste of bitterness in the mouths of these citizens and the question of when will there be an end to this phase of bullyism. It has been noted that the president has completely ignored calls from the various unions who sought to engage him on the issue of salary and better conditions of work proposals that they have submitted time and time again to his office.
We are disappointed with this announcement since the cost of living has skyrocketed over the last two years. The cost of every item in the marketplace has been increased by 100%. But I understand this does not resonate with the president because he doesn’t face the market like the masses as whatever he requests is given to him on a platter.
His announcement is a clear indication that the gap between the rich and the poor will never be bridged as 8% across will see the rich becoming richer and the poor remaining poor. Let us be reminded that it was this very individual who, while in Opposition in his parliamentary speech, loudly proclaimed that public servants would receive no less than a 20% increase if the PPP is in the government.
Now that he is sitting in the seat of government, all that public servants have received is the imposed crumbs of 7% in 2021 and now 8% in 2022. This is indeed a slap in the face of democracy and true governance and an insult to the working class. We can never trust the PPP, because it is clear as day that they don’t care. Our public servants deserve better.