Kaieteur News – The Leader of the Opposition knows full well that the government cannot announce an increase for public servants in the Budget. He knows too well that if they do this, he will be the first to question their adherence to collective bargaining with the union representing public servants.
Workers would have loved to learn about an increase. They got nothing in 2020, thanks to the same Opposition which kept the country in gridlock for five months and forced a late emergency Budget.
The Opposition therefore should be the last to be plugging for any increases to public servants. It hardly ever did so itself while in government. It had the teachers on a royal run-around before agreeing to increases and its actions deprived public servants of an increase in 2020.
Public sector workers are not wasting time, waiting on any increases. They are sitting, moping and waiting with folded hands on the PPP’s tradition of imposing a retroactive 12-month increase at Christmas time. In fact, to tell the truth, many of them prefer to get the increase in the form of back pay at Christmas than to get it in January and have nothing extra for the holiday season.
Guyanese workers are not in the mood to be waiting in vain. Many are on the hustle. Some work in the office in the day and catch their hands in the night doing a part time job, or hustle whenever they can.
There are public servants working in offices who when they leave work in the afternoons would drive to various car parks and pick up a “load” of passengers. This is how they are earning an extra dollar.
Some of them are having their relatives send in stuff in barrels and they are peddling to their colleagues at work. Some are preparing meals and snacks and taking it into the office and selling. Workers are not waiting on government’s increase; they are hustling.
Others are seeking out greener pastures. If another job is paying better, they jump at the opportunity. They are not averse to risk-taking. It is those who are afraid of taking risks that end up stuck in dead-end jobs that go nowhere and pay next to nothing.
Just recently, the Guyana Public Service Union called for a 25 percent increase in wages.
Workers have long learnt to move on to better things. There are far too many options out there for public employees to even think about industrial action. These options are the reasons why there is and will always be a severe shortage of labour in the sugar industry.
Many sugar workers are now working for more money doing soft labour at businesses and on minibuses. This is less strenuous and more rewarding than the back-breaking task of cutting canes on the estates. Many of them are into construction and some prefer to do a little buying and selling and are making good money from their small kitchen gardens. The sugar workers, long the most oppressed workers in Guyana, are moving on. Instead of intense industrial agitation, they are joining the bandwagon and making a hustle elsewhere.
But there is an even better option open to Guyanese workers. If you have family living outside of Guyana you can always call them up, tell them that things are tough in Guyana and that some days you have nothing to eat.
When they ask why you do not have a job, you can tell them that since the PPP/C came to power, there are no jobs available. Like suckers they will go down every month to the money transfer office and send you some American dollars which you will spend sporting and drinking with your friends while they work their butts off to make the sacrifice to send you the money.
Guyanese in the Diaspora are suckers for a sad story. They will send you money regular enough and sufficient enough that you can retire early and live the life of Riley.
The effects of all of these options provide little or no incentive or motivation to strike or agitate for increases in emoluments.
The government knows all of this and has already decided that five percent is good enough each year. That is the PPP/C’s magical figure and that is what is likely to be offered this November.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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