Dec 02, 2022 Letters
Letter writer Randolph Persaud (KN Nov 30/22) contended that a letter under the title “Guyanese replaced slave masters with…” (KN Nov 28/22) was nothing short of a catalogue of unsubstantiated claims, [with] the call for the letter writer and all public service workers to be paid more than $6M. He went on to say that this claim was both comical and irresponsible. Persaud seems quite satisfied with making scurrilous claims himself without providing substantive proof.
Firstly, Persaud should be well aware that the administration of the PPP never had any use for ethics and governance procedures, easily explaining why they continuously disregard representatives of public servants. This is not political. It is a statement of fact. He is urged to Google Bringing Guyana into The 21st Century for reference material. The six million dollars referred to was based on an across-the-board G$50,000/month adjustment, my estimate, giving G$600,000 for every one of the ten years I have worked in the public service. It is a fact that the 57-day strike in 1999 forced the move to arbitration in which public servants were awarded increases of 31.06 percent and 26.66 percent for the years 1999 and 2000, respectively. This amounts to around66.0 percent, calculated on end-1998 salaries. For reference, sixty-six percent of G$150,000 is G$99,000. It is also a fact that government awarded a 5 percent increase in salaries in 2002, avoiding any disagreement which would have provoked another call for arbitration. Such payment in the absence of agreement/arbitration over the years makes government liable for all sums, when such decision is rendered, for every instance of government’s breach of governing laws.
I am unaware of any negotiations between the unions and government on public servants’ salaries since 1999 in which the unions agreed to any increase offered by government. While there have been discussions between the teachers’ union and the government over the years, these in sum did not result in any agreement which materially address the pressing financial conditions of teachers and their families, where the union and teachers happily agreed to any given increase in salaries in any given year. Furthermore, Persaud should understand that Part II Section 23 (1) of the Trade Union Recognition Act states that ‘the employer shall recognise the union, and the union and the employer shall bargain in good faith and enter into negotiations with each other for the purpose of collective bargaining.’ However, Part IV Section (35) states the Government as the employer shall not be liable to prosecution (there are penalties) under this Act but an aggrieved party may apply to the High declaration and the High Court may make an order declaratory of the rights of such party.
Persaud should therefore read and understand that the government knows, and understands the law, and that it has willfully breached the law by not meeting with the recognized representatives of public servants over the years inclusive of 2022, by avoiding negotiations aimed at determining appropriate increases in salaries for public servants. He should understand that government by its actions are exacerbating the financial distress of public servants, economically abusing public servants, their children and other dependents. Further, policy by government over the years has been such that it has resulted in a drastic decline in welfare, standard of living for public servants, with many of them existing in a worsening state of insufficiency, not having enough to feed, clothe and house their families. These include staff with diplomas, degrees and post-graduate qualifications, being unable to care for their families and dependents because of the cruel nature of the man behind the PPP. Included also are many aged staff, some as old as eighty years of age, who cannot retire because they would die from financial distress if they did.
The administration’s treatment of public servants over the years demonstrates a few points which only public servants working for less than G$170,000 can refute: 1. Government considers that workers are underlings, lesser beings, to be treated as less than equal or deserving. 2. The government of the PPP does not care whether public servants live or die, does not care for their children, their families, does not respect them as Guyanese. Only public servants can refute this.
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