Nov 19, 2022 News
– GPSU tells workers to prepare for struggle
Kaieteur News – The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) on Friday called the eight percent increase in public servants salaries ‘disrespectful’, ‘arbitrary’ and ‘minuscule’.
On Thursday, President Irfaan Ali announced the eight percent across the board retroactive increase for public servants and promised to make another announcement for members of the joint services and healthcare workers next week.
The GPSU in a Press Release said the ‘arbitrary announcement is being done in conflict with the Constitution and Laws of Guyana, International Labour Organisation’s core Conventions and the Declaration of Fundamental Rights and Principles of Workers and the legally binding Collective Labour Agreements between the Guyana Public Service Union and the Government of Guyana.
The Union said that the public service increase also conflicts with “all guiding principles of any organisation that has working class credentials”.
“The GPSU further notes that this deliberate, blatant and discriminatory action by the PPP/C Government is totally ignoring the astronomical increase in cost of living, current inadequate earnings of workers, who provided and continues to provide quality public services, and the broad base and overwhelming support received from both nationally and overseas,” the media release stated.
The Union posited that it is because of the uncaring nature of the Government that Public Servants, particularly those in the health sector and teaching services choose to migrate “rather than remain in this hostile, political, race-charged environment, ineptly managed by an ungrateful, uncaring and insensitive employer.”
GPSU accused the Government of undervaluing the employees’ services and contributions to the progress and development of Guyana.
“The GPSU considers the repetition of this unsympathetic, unenlightened, and backward approach by the PPP/C Government as an objection to the attributes of modern industrial relations, and also as one beset with ulterior motives, including provocation, discrimination, and the act of challenging workers to be confrontational, which could ultimately lead to the creation of further ethic divisions in the society.”
Further, the Union said that Government is “squandering [of] public revenues, through selective handouts, including the forty thousand dollars ($40,000) a month payout to persons to appear in the workplaces for ten (10) days each month without any assigned duties, are being undertaken in the face of wide spread suffering by the majority of Public Servants.”
GPSU said it strongly condemns what it terms ‘abusive acts’ by the Government and calls on Guyanese, particularly Public Servants to be united, embrace each other and stand firm “against this banality and vanquish it.”
“The GPSU advises all workers that there is a labour debt that is owed to the workers by the PPP/C regime, which is restorative from January 2020 and which must be paid… Workers should treat any handout that is being made available to them as an interim payment and it must be tax free like all other handouts given to PPP/C supporters,” the Union said while calling on workers to “start preparation for the necessary struggle for respect, fair and equal treatment”.
The Union also called on the Government to commence negotiations for wages, salaries and allowances for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 immediately.
In a separate statement, The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) said it is “grossly disappointed” with the Government’s announcement of 8 percent retroactive salary increase for public servants.
In a statement posted on its Facebook Page, the GTU’s President Mark Lyte said, “What is incomprehensible is the rationalisation for this meagre increase when the inflation rate in Guyana is over 50%.”
Lyte accused the Irfaan Ali-led Administration of showing “its disregard for the rule of law by again ignoring the constitutional right of working-class people or collective bargaining.”
“There is no end to the disrespect meted out to teachers in particular. The President has ignored correspondences from the Guyana Teachers’ Union since ascending to public office, a position that was unjustified and unimaginable,” the GTU head said in his Press Release.
Further, Lyte said that the Union submitted on several occasions, its Multi-Year Proposal for salary and non-salary benefits to the President, Vice-President, Finance Minister and Minister of Education but “there has not been the common courtesy to acknowledge receipt of the document from these officials.”
The Union said the meagre 8 percent increase will not ease the strain placed on public servants and Guyanese as a whole due to the rise in cost of living over the last two years. “The prices for almost every item in the market have increased by 100%. While in Opposition, the President, in a parliamentary debate, loudly acclaimed that Public Servants and Teachers would receive no less than 20 % should his Government be elected. His Government has been in office for over two (2) years, and the salary increase received so far is 7% in 2021 and 8% in 2022,” the media release said.
Further, Lyte sought to remind President Ali that Teachers were “owed debunching 2% retroactively in 2017.” He said too that Teachers employed from 2016 have received the previous year’s salary. “The morale of Teachers continues to be low because of the way they are been treated,” he said while noting that Thursday’s announcement demonstrates that the Government’s “attitude toward Teachers tells us, they care less about us.”
The GTU President said, “A caring Government must not only say it cares but show it cares. We must stand and let our voices be heard.”
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