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The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) wishes it to be known the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s announcement of an arbitrary and minuscule 8% increase in wages and salary for public sector workers conflicts with the Constitution and Laws of Guyana, International Labour Organisation core Conventions, the Declaration of Fundamental Rights and legally binding Collective Bargaining.
This union represents a significant number of workers in the public sector. However, the more than two-year-old Irfaan Ali government is refusing to engage the union on increased wages and salary and improved working conditions. According to the GPSU, the arbitrary pay out also conflicts with all guiding principles of any organisation that has working class credentials. The PPP/C, which emerged out of working-class struggles and was so promoted by the party’s Founder Leader, Dr. Cheddie Jagan, has been accused of betraying working class principles.
The GPSU says, it further notes this deliberate, blatant and discriminatory action by the PPP/C Government is totally ignoring the astronomical increase in cost of living; current inadequate earnings of workers, who provided and continues to provide quality public services; and the broad base and overwhelming support received from both nationally and overseas.
The disregard the Union says, “is also coupled with the displeasure displayed by so many workers, particularly those in the health sector and teaching services, who choose migration rather than remain in this hostile, political, race-charged environment, ineptly managed by an ungrateful, uncaring and insensitive employer.”
Blasting the government for its behaviour, the Union finds the “oblivious, unconstitutional and lawless conduct of Government is clearly a further testimony to the regard the PPP Civic regime has for the Rule of law, democracy and workers’ rights.” This, the Union says, reflects an ongoing manifestation of how the Government undervalues the employees’ services and contributions to the progress and development of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
“The GPSU considers the repetition of this unsympathetic, unenlightened and backward approach by the PPP/C Government as an objection to the attributes of modern industrial relations and also as one beset with ulterior motives, including provocation, discrimination and the act of challenging workers to be confrontational, which could ultimately lead to the creation of further ethic divisions in the society.
Turning attention to the discriminatory management of resources, the unions states: “The discriminatory use and squandering of public revenues, through selective handouts, including the forty thousand dollars ($40,000) a month payout to persons to appear in the workplaces for ten (10) days each month without any assigned duties, are being undertaken in the face of widespread suffering by the majority of Public Servants.”
The Union, in the release, strongly condemns these abusive acts by the government and calls on Guyanese to to be united, especially workers, who are asked to embrace each other and stand firm against this banality and vanquish it.
“The GPSU advises all workers that there is a labour debt that is owed to the workers by the PPP/C regime, which is restorative from January 2020 and which must be paid.
“The known intention of the Government is to keep workers in stricken poverty, given that for decades workers were forced to supplement employment costs because of the grossly inadequate allowances being paid to discharge official duties. Workers should treat any handout that is being made available to them as an interim payment and it must be tax free like all other handouts given to PPP/C supporters.
“The GPSU also calls on all workers to start preparation for the necessary struggle for respect, fair and equal treatment and calls on the PPP/C Government to respect the Rule of Law and commence negotiations for wages, salaries and allowance for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022, forthwith.”
Finally, “ GPSU prays that God bless us all and deliver us from this evil.”