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The A Partnership of National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition condemned the Government’s approach to paying public sector workers. Last Thursday, President Irfaan Ali announced an eight per cent across the board increase for public sector workers, retroactive from January 1st.
The announcement was also made without regard for the unionised workers’ right to collective bargaining as government continues to ignore the Guyana Teachers Union and Guyana Public Service Union, who represent many public sector workers. This is a treatment the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government does not meet out to the politically aligned Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and others considered friendly or aligned.
At the weekly Tuesday press conference, Shadow Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Ganesh Mahipaul, reading from a prepared statement the PPP’s approach has justifiably been condemned as insulting and disrespectful of public sector workers. “We should also note that the mistreatment of public servants also reflects the PPP’s indifference to the well-being of Guyanese citizens.”
When midwives, nursing assistants, and nurses continue to leave the country for more respect and more pay in the UK and elsewhere, it is the people of Guyana who are harmed by the decline of our health services, the coalition warned. So too they said when teachers pack up and fly out, our schools and school children pay the price. Further, when our qualified university graduates migrate in droves, the people pay the price, which was also issued as another warning.
The Opposition also cautioned that when the public service is no longer seen by young people as providing career opportunities and pathways to decent living standards, it is the country that suffers. “The PPP does not get this—and never will. The PPP therefore by its treatment of public service workers is promoting migration of Guyanese.”
The Opposition has proposed, in response to request they said from person, what they approach would have been were they in government as reference below
“Let us first state our principles and commitments.
- There should be no working poor in Guyana. We now have the financial means to lift all Guyanese well over the poverty line.
- We will build a modern, motivated and highly-trained public service, as it is vital in the realization of our people-centered national development vision. Such a public service is required to deliver top-quality health, education, and other social services; to manage a comprehensive social protection system; to provide efficient services to the private sector; and to ensure the affairs of the people can be efficiently administered.
- We will respect the public sector unions as the legitimate representatives of public servants. This is an error that has to be rectified and we are committed to doing so.
“Under a future Coalition government, public servants will be guaranteed a liveable income through several measures, all of which we have announced before but still bear repeating. These include: increasing the minimum wage, raising the tax threshold, abolishing income tax for workers at the bottom of the scale, topping-up salaries as required through allowances; and providing training for job advancement.
“These measures will work in combination with our social protection programs (such as our cash grant program, our Early Childhood Care and Education Plan, and our Utility Bill Relief Program) to ensure all public servants (in fact, all Guyanese) can enjoy a high quality and a comfortable life.
“At the end of the day, what a government does or does not do for the people comes down to what’s in its heart. The PPP does not have the well-being of the people at heart. It has announced no major initiative to end poverty, expand the middle class, and reduce inequality. Its core governing philosophy is to bribe the citizenry, dominate and subjugate. We have our people at heart.”
Responding to a reporter’s question that the APNU+AFC government had disregarded workers’ right to collective bargaining, Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton, in acknowledging same said a new coalition government will learn from the past and not repeat the same mistake.