Dec 31, 2013 News
Highlighting that public workers are the backbone of any developing society, the St. Lucia Civil Service Association became the latest Caribbean Public Servants International (PSI) affiliate to join counterparts in extending solidarity to the Guyana Local Government Officers’ Union (GLGOU) over the ongoing division at City Hall, notably, the “controversial” appointment of Carol Sooba to the executive post of City Town Clerk.
The Association from the small island nation has declared its support for the local union during its endeavours to defend the workers who were better qualified for the prestigious spot, but were bypassed by the Local Government Ministry in their appointment of the “unpopular” Ms. Sooba.
GLGOU President, Dale Beresford had called on affiliate labour unions and associations of the PSI, for support in what he said was “the blatant violation of the public service rules in the appointment of suitable and qualified employees to fill suitable senior positions within the public service.” He had described the Town Clerk’s appointment by the Local Government Ministry; among other unsatisfactory occurrences at City Hall as “unconstitutional” and a direct violation of workers’ rights.
PSI Caribbean is an arm of the Public Services International which is a global trade union federation representing 20 million workers in 150 countries. Ever since Beresford sought the intervention of the affiliates, members have expressed their concern towards the ongoing city woes, especially since mention of the loggerhead situation at the City Hall was highlighted in Montserrat and St Lucia – in a recently held forum earlier this year.
While the city is plagued by garbage piles, overcrowding, lawless construction and flash flooding, the majority of opposition councilors and the government -affiliated Town Clerk remain at odds and seem unable to move ahead with the Council’s business. The sides have also locked jaws on the blame game, with government blaming the Council for years of poor management and corruption, whilst the Council blames government for poor management, inadequate manpower and a deliberately stifling the Council’s ability to raise funds.
PSI has displayed Georgetown and its administrators’ state of affairs on the international scene by reporting the city’s dilemma on its website, stressing specifically on the city’s unhealthy garbage and flood situation. Additionally, the report highlighted, based on the information from the GLGOU, the lack of transparency in decisions made about the city and the deliberate defiance of established recruitment guidelines and procedures for the public service, among other disregards for the Council’s mode of operation.
The St. Lucian body has noted their support for public servants who “provide the highest level of services one can render.”
“We have taken note of challenges that your members have been facing in the Mayor and City Council in ensuring that quality services are provided to those working in and using the public markets, on the streets of Georgetown and in various facilities in which your members provide valuable services. Workers provide these services under the direction of supervisors and managers. And where one aspect is wanting, the level of service provided is affected. Workers’ ability to provide quality services depends substantially on the wide-ranging investments made into those services.”
“Tripartism, social dialogue and respect for and adherence to agreed guidelines, transparency and democratic principles are the hallmarks of truly democratic societies. In this regard we are also especially concerned and on alert at the growing signs of disrespect for and denial of the right to collective bargaining between the government and sisters and brothers of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).”
The island’s union reiterated solidarity in the two local unions fight, “for transparency, democracy, fairness and respect. You deserve nothing less. The people deserve nothing less.”
In the meantime, City Hall’s Public Relations Officer Royston King remains steadfast in his quest to have the Town Clerk’s position undone. He was one of those who had applied for the Town Clerk position. In a motion filed by King through his attorneys, the Local Government Minister was given 14 days to answer as to why the High Court should not quash Sooba’s “controversial” appointment. King has seven days to reply and all parties will be back in court in January 2014.
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