In the 91 years that the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has been serving Civil Servants, it has made enemies along the way and encountered hostility in the stand for justice, head of the organization Patick Yarde stated.
In an address to the nation to mark the birth of the trade union, Yarde pointed out that, currently, much is wrong with the way the government is treating the union, since its members continue to face various forms of injustice.
He explained that while the union has made significant achievements over the years, workers are still plagued by inadequate salaries, allowances, unfair and suppressive conditions of service among other things.
He was referring to government’s arbitrary implementation of five percent increases for public sector workers over the past decade.
But Yarde used the opportunity to thank all GPSU members for standing firm and moving forward in their pursuit of justice.
He said that, 91years ago, the founding fathers of the GPSU gave life to a wonderful dream, which enshrined the birth of togetherness and a commitment in the pursuit of “Justice for All Public Service Employees”.
To effectively undertake this task, they organized Union Members, which was necessary to cultivate a democratic organization, involving the widest possible participation and involvement of Public Sector workers.
This was achieved and, subsequently, leaders were able to convince the Government of Guyana to agree to an Agency Shop Agreement, requiring as conditions of service that new employees joining the Public Service after the March 1, 1976 pay agency fees as a condition of service if they decided not to join the general membership.
According to the GPSU president, “Undoubtedly, the GPSU has been a virtuous organization. Its history would reveal remarkable stories of its activities, actions and achievements, which unfailingly called attention to injustices and discrimination, while defending the vulnerable, including the defense of women to secure the right to continued employment, if they choose to have families.”
Outstanding also was the Union’s contribution which successfully laid the basis for Guyanese born and bred professionals to hold senior office in the Civil Service, presently known as the Public Service, Yarde said.
The Union vigorously pursued respect and dignity for Public Servants, including rights to annual vacation leave with vacation allowances free of restrictions that were separate and distinct from paid salary.
The Union was also in the vanguard that led to the amendment of the Constitution of Guyana to provide for the establishment of the Public Service Appellate Tribunal (PSAT), as well as other worker friendly legislations.
But Yarde said that it is, however, disappointing that the Government of the day has failed to uphold this constitutional requirement, with the result that a PSAT was not appointed for almost a decade.
With courage and consistency, the GPSU have been calling attention to abuse of power, corruption and the overpowering display of bad governance that has in recent times plagued the country.
“The Union never ceases being a voice for justice, equality, racial harmony and national unity, and has always strived to help people generally. For these pursuits we have made enemies and encountered hostility, but steadfastly take the stand for justice, equality and causes which merit the support of any right thinking functionary,” Yarde stated.
According to the GPSU President, presently hostile attacks on the Union have resulted in the suffocation of the flow of financial resources, deprivation of property that was to provide recreational and educational facilities to members, and obstruction of the ability to give medical, educational, legal and financial assistance to members.
He stated that one of the most grievous experiences was the Government of Guyana’s blunt refusal to support the “Children Day Care Project”, which was designed to provide a clean and healthy environment for the children of members, during work or study.
”I must salute and express eternal thanks to those thousands of members who, notwithstanding their inadequate and insufficient earnings, including the arbitrary imposition of inadequate salaries, wages and allowances, compounded by other unfair and suppressive conditions of service, have continued to endure that treatment and make the required sacrifice to ensure that the Union exists effectively, and to proudly and boldly continue the struggles to overcome the unwarranted and unpatriotic assault on workers’ rights.”
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