Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
The Ignorance of Mr. Jagdeo on matters relating to Constitutional and Legal Rights of Trade Unions.
The Guyana Public Service Union wishes to respond to comments attributed to the Vice President, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, which are tantamount to excuses for Government’s known breaches of the Constitution and Laws of Guyana. In this regard, he ignorantly spoke of matters relating to Trade Unions and posited that these Unions were making unrealistic demands and were aligned. This diatribe was published by Demerara Wave on November 9, 2023 under the caption “Govt. reluctant to negotiate unrealistic wage demands with opposition-aligned trade unions – Jadgeo”.
The ignorance displayed by this Senior Government Functionary is a nonsensical excuse for Government’s failure to conform to the requirements of the Constitution and Laws of Guyana that require collective bargaining between Employers and Trade Unions. Government’s role in upholding these legal requirements is not at its whims and fancies, but rather as prescribed in the Statutes. So for the Vice President to say that there is reluctance is more of an admission of a deliberate non-conformity to the Constitution and Laws of Guyana and the manifestation of the consummate prejudice for the GPSU and Public Service Workers. In fact, his utterance can be summed up as total disrespect and contempt for the Constitution and Laws of Guyana.
It is neither the Vice President’s call, nor that of the Government, to determine what rights would be allowed or denied to workers. These rights were made pellucid in both the Constitution and Laws of Guyana and therefore could not be willy nilly ascribed or denied at the Government’s whim. The Laws basically ascribes these rights, and Governments, as Servants of the People must comply, as they are normally foresworn to do.
The Government functionary accords himself the status of Judge and Jury, thereby determining what Trade Unions are opposition aligned and this is pathetic. It seems that independent Trade Unions, which seek to secure the rights of workers without fear or favour, are accorded the status of being opposition aligned. Such puerile analogy, from a person elected to serve the people, is most discomforting and disheartening.
In fact, one can also note the irrational thinking of the Vice President when he represents to the nation Government’s reluctance to negotiate unrealistic demands, when in fact Trade Unions have not been allowed to properly defend their proposals or are availed with any counter-proposals from the Government.
The Guyana Public Service Union is of the view that that functionary should deal directly with the facts of the matter rather than add political propaganda narratives to the procedures dictated by the Law.
Further, if some Trade Unions decide that they want to be politically aligned, that is an inalienable right and it is not for Governments to consider such decisions as bases supporting whether to negotiate or not.
The Government, as an employer, must obey the law, and the law dictates collective bargaining as it relates to wage demands, whether such is believed to be unrealistic or not. If it is the Government’s perception that demands made by Trade Unions are unrealistic, then it behooves them to produce the necessary evidence to show that those demands are unrealistic and take it from there, rather than to make unsubstantiated statements, without empirical evidence.
The whole processes of negotiation enable realistic solutions to demands made by Trade Unions and the Government is deliberately avoiding this lawful process. The words purportedly uttered by the Vice President attributes to him a certain level of incompetence and ignorance of the Statutory Processes.
Moreover, the proposals submitted by the Unions are not only considered reasonable and merited, but also affordable. It is the Government that continues to impose grossly inadequate salaries, wages and allowances that continue to result in employees being relegated to the status of employed poor. Then in the pretense of care, Goverment would throw miniscule relief to workers at the end of each year. Government’s posture is always in opposition to meaningful proposals made from the GPSU and Trade Unions generally, while being insensitive towards the needs of workers.
It was this very same negative mentality that
Further, it is important to understand the political nature of the governing cabal. The announcement made by the President occurred approximately ten months after the Parliament approved the related five billion dollars relief package. The President having allowed that significant lapse in time has shown his lack of concern for the obvious impoverished working class, who were made to suffer through the astronomical increases in the cost of living over a prolonged period while he and his party engaged in political grand standing.