Chairman and Shadow Labour Minister of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Basil Williams, has said that the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has legal grounds to seek recourse over the arbitrary five per cent increase that was imposed on public servants by government.
He however contended that taking legal action is not the problem but to whom should legal action be taken since according to Williams there is no Industrial Court like those in other Caribbean countries where union matters can be addressed.
Williams added that an industrial court would be imperative to address union matters. Those matters would not be bogged down with general matters in the Court system, as well as be encumbered by the sloth that is attached to the judicial system.
The Public Service Appellate tribunal which was established for some time has become dormant for over the years, he said. “We have been calling for them to reconstitute that body so that appeals by public servants can be fast tracked to that body instead of the court system.”
According to Williams, the government is bound to honour the collective bargaining agreement reached with the union but for 13 years the government “has been observing that agreement in the breach.”
“Legal recourse could be had for breach of certain terms and conditions like that and the collective bargaining agreement provided that the agreement makes conditions for that of course.”
According to Williams the five percent wage increase that the government has been imposing since 2000 has essentially kept the public servants on the bread line. “A living wage the PSU has determined should be around $124,000. We are nowhere close to that. The public servants have the right the nurses, the teachers, the policemen, prison offers, firemen, they have a right to a decent life.”
The shadow Minister of Labour said that under this present system the expectations of workers and young people are abysmal. He said that they cannot expect to own a motorbike, a small car, go on a vacation or pursue a higher education.
“We have to do something for our young people and something for the workers as well.”
APNU leader David Granger said, “If we are invited by the union and the conditions are right we will join the workers in the protest. We have had meetings with the GTU executives and we were informed that there are no strikes yet, just protest action on the streets, but we are in full support.”
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