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The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has condemned, in the strongest possible terms, President Irfaan Ali’s announcements that public sector workers will receive a $25, 000 bonus and certain categories of teachers will move in salary from the lowest band in their salary scale to the highest.
According to the TUC, in a release, the President’s announcements trample the constitutionally protected right of teachers and public servants to engage in collective bargaining with the government through their unions, the Guyana Teachers Union and Guyana Public Service Union, respectively.
“Apart from the violation of the right to collective bargaining, a one-off payment of $25,000, which is equivalent to US $125.00, is an insult and peanuts for a class of people that year-long have kept the engine of government firing on all cylinders. Likewise, is the pay increase to certain categories of teachers.”
Further, the arbitrary increase on wage/salary bands predates the oil economy, the TUC said, and also ignores the trade unions’ calls to respect collective bargaining and bring wage/salary bands in line with today’s economy.
“Government workers-public servants and teachers- are not being paid income commensurate in the world’s fastest growing economy, an economy in the last eight years that announced 46 oil finds; an economy that in 2023 will earn US$1.88 Billion in oil revenue alone, money this nation has never before seen. And the workers, who are making it possible for the government to effectively and efficiently function, are being thrown crumbs!”
GTUC is calling on workers not to be fooled. Workers deserve and must fight for more. Workers deserve earnings befitting an oil and gas economy, and such benefits are not only for foreign nationals but also local labour.
Ali’s violates oath of office, Gov’t afraid to negotiate
The TUC said the government fears if they come to the bargaining table, based on the trade unions’ proposals, they would have to deliver or show cause why they cannot. According to the TUC the Government is afraid to negotiate with the unions, noting that said behaviour is not only in violation of Section 23 (1) of the Trade Union Recognition Act and Article 147 of the Constitution of Guyana but also the oath of office President Ali took to uphold the Constitution and Laws of Guyana.
Section 23 (1) of the Trade Union Recognition Act requires the employer to treat with the union and negotiate in good faith. “The government continues to operate in violation of this law. Workers continue to be abused by the government, thrown peanuts, and are expected to be welcoming of the disrespect.”
Blasting government’s treatment of public servants and teachers, TUC said workers are being paid less than they deserve, in oil rich Guyana, an economy where cost of living has outpaced earnings, adversely impacting working conditions and standard of living, which will hinder workers’ motivation to perform at their best.
Both Government and Opposition invited to attend TUC Conference
Touching on Vice President (VP) Bharrat Jagdeo swipe at the Union’s just concluded 5th Triennial Congress at his Thursday press conference that only Opposition supporters attended the conference, TUC said both Government and Opposition were invited, but the Government did not turn up. To this end, TUC has called on the Government to tell the nation why they did not attend.
“GTUC invited both members of the opposition leadership and government ministers. That the government sought to boycott the event, they should tell this nation why.”
The TUC also took the opportunity to remind the nation the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government ministers, including President Ali, attended the conferences of Federation of Independent Trade Union Congress (FITUG) and Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU).
“Whilst GTUC has no problem with such participation, it would not be unfair to ask whether the government attendance and participation at those conferences were intended to signal to the nation that these unions and affiliates are PPP unions? Further, the government should answer whether their absence from the GTUC’s conference could be construed as part of their ‘one Guyana’ policy where the other half of society does not matter.”
Minister Sonia Parag
TUC is condemning Minister Sonia Parag’s attacks on former Minister Carl Greenidge and immediate past President Coretta McDonald for presentations made at the opening of their conference, Wednesday 8th November. The TUC is calling on Parag to provide evidence to counter the evidence provided by Mr. Greenidge and Ms. McDonald, stating “it is not sufficient to accuse and not prove.”
Greenidge, who delivered the opening remarks, not only charged workers to assert their right and role in society but highlighted the government’s right and duty to respect collective bargaining and cater for all citizens, noting that these factors are fundamental to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. McDonald highlighted the government’s egregious conduct. Both presenters, in their presentations, buttressed their contention by evidence, the TUC contended.
Thus, the claim made by the minister that statements made by the two presenters were misleading is unsubstantiated, the TUC asserted. “It is an attempt to dispute what was said without marshalling any fact to prove Mr. Greenidge and Ms. McDonald were misleading and the minister is telling the truth.”
It is the Union’s view that the PPP’s problem is that they do not want any challenge, or any divergent views given expression in society. “They always want to challenge what others say even when they are misleading the nation.”