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Minister of Labour, Mr. Joseph Hamilton, has come out in defence of government’s eight per cent (8 %) across-the-board pay increase to public servants, which is retroactive from January 1st.
Assuming the proverbial attack dog role, Hamilton accused the A Partnership of National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) of focusing on themselves, not the Guyanese people.
In the second year of the APNU+AFC government, public servants were given a 10 % increase compared to the 8 % the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government announced in their second year.
Public sector represented by trade unions would be receiving the imposed pay without the government and their unions abiding by collective bargaining which is a violation of those workers’ rights. Workers represented by unions such as the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) and the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) are among those affected. The GPSU has approached the court to direct the government to respect the basic right to collective bargaining.
Both the PPP and APNU+AFC governments have violated the right to collective bargaining. Tuesday at the Leader of the Opposition press conference he was asked about this. Responding to the reporter, Opposition Leader, Mr Aubrey Norton, in acknowledging the fact said the coalition will learn the mistakes of the past and not repeat them. The PPP is yet to show they have learned from the past disregarding the right to collective bargaining.
Mr. Irfaan Ali, as a PPP Opposition Member of Parliament, during a parliamentary debate chided the APNU+AFC government for paying public servants the sum they were given. According to Ali, the public servants, nurses, teachers, disciplined services and other workers deserve “50 per cent increase.” This was an increase Ali said a PPP government would have paid.
In 2022, the economy is the healthiest it has ever been. Gross Domestic Product for 2022 is projected to be approximately 59 per cent and revenue from oil and gas, approximately US$ 1.1 Billion. Guyana is ranked, by international financial institutions, as the world’s fastest growing economy.
Hamilton, going after GTU General Secretary; President, Guyana Trades Union Congress; and APNU+AFC Member of Parliament, Ms. Coretta McDonald, said “instead of focusing on the overall well-being of the public sector workers…Coretta McDonald’s party rewarded themselves with a 50 per cent salary increase, three months after taking office. They spent billions of dollars on food, fancy vehicles, and upgrading offices for themselves.
Pay increase to APNU+AFC government officials was also extended to all Members of Parliament, including the PPP. Vehicles purchased during the coalition government are the property of the state, likewise the upgrade of Office of the President and other government buildings, all of which the PPP Government now uses.
Shadow Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Mr. Ganesh Mahipaul, pointed out the pay increase will also benefit the president and ministers. The calculations point out:-
“President Ali receives a salary of somewhere around $1, 800, 000 (One Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Dollars.) and 8% of $1,800,000 is $144 000 and when we multiply that by 12 months to cater for the retroactive, he will get $1, 728, 000 (One Million, Seven Hundred and Twenty Eight Thousand Dollars) as his salary increase. So Irfaan for December will take home over $3.5M (Three Million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars.)
“His Ministers will receive close to $900 000 monthly and with the 8% salary increase retroactive they will each take home for December their $900 000 plus $864 000, a total of $1, 764, 000 (One Million, Seven hundred and Sixty-Four Thousand Dollars.)”
The calculation excludes allowances.
Mahipaul also pointed out that the present minimum wage is $75 000 and 8% of that is $6000; 8% of $100 000 is $8000; 8% of $150 000 is $12000.”
Inflation in Guyana is the worst it has been in years, eroding wages and salaries. With high inflation Guyanese are spending significantly more for less.
However, according to Minister Hamilton, the Opposition is operating in an alternate reality.