Apr 13, 2016 News
When Finance Minister Winston Jordan announced earlier this year that public servants wages increase will
be subjected to negotiations with the Guyana Public Service Union, the workers breathed a little sigh of relief.
At least it was time to do away with the meagre arbitrary increases that were shoveled down their throats by the previous People’s Progressive Party Civic administration for more than a decade.
But it’s been more than two months since Minister Jordan made the announcement and the relief is beginning to turn to despair for the ordinary Public Servants who are eagerly waiting for the livable wage that was promised to them by the coalition APNU+AFC government.
But at least the President of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Patrick Yarde is optimistic that the wages and salaries increases will commence soon.
Speaking to this newspaper yesterday, Yarde informed that while the negotiations have not commenced as yet, correspondences are being exchanged between the government and the workers bargaining body.
“I am optimistic that the talks will begin soon…one party cannot negotiate, it takes two sides to do so,” he said.
When asked about the possibility of the government arbitrarily imposing an increase for expediency sake, Yarde declared that he would be shocked at such a development.
“I would be very surprised if such a presumption was to unfold, and I am certain that the members will reject it.
Almost a month ago, the GPSU had taken offence to remarks made recently by Finance Minister Jordan, to the effect that Public Servants should not look out for a significant salary increase anytime soon.
The Union said that Jordan’s comments were highly inappropriate, since it came at a time when negotiations had not commenced.
The finance minister had announced last month that before the next budget is presented, public servants can expect a “top-up,” but cautioned that expectations for handsome increases need to be tempered.
His warning in this regard came on the heels of a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which warned that Guyana must be mindful of its increases in wages when one considers the extent of economic challenges facing the Government.
Jordan agreed with the IMF position on the matter.
“In the good times, paying exaggerated salaries has serious long and short term impacts. Trinidad and Tobago is feeling the effects of paying salaries which at one time seemed sustainable,” the minister explained.
“You either cut salaries or cut employment so to avoid being caught in that situation; one has to be extremely careful and prudent on matters of wage increases,” he added.
The Union said that it shudders to think that the Minister – whether on his own volition or acting on some other directive — might be seeking to infuse an element of unhealthy prejudice into the negotiations with the GPSU on a salary increase for public servants ahead of the start of the negotiations.
It added, “What we also find particularly disconcerting, is (his) reported response to a question regarding negotiations for a pay increase for public servants …‘I don’t know about room to negotiate…we will negotiate a salary increase that is sustainable and that we can meet with projected growth’ remark.”
The GPSU said that those are not the words of an individual who is amenable to negotiations, but one who comes to the table with preconditions that taint the negotiating environment long before the discourse even begins.
Yesterday, the GPSU president said that he is cautiously optimistic that the undertaking to have meaningful negotiations without any prejudice conducted will be respected.
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