Government’s ‘Christmas freck’ must not distract from wage negotiations -GPSU

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The announcement late last week that Public Servants earning less than $500,000.00 per month are to be paid a “one-off, tax-free bonus of $25,000.00” is termed “a Christmas freck” by the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).

In a statement on Wednesday, the GPSU said this comes against the backdrop of ongoing uncertainty over the status of the incomplete and outstanding wages and salaries negotiations between the Union and the Government of Guyana.

Frankly, the Union said it also finds the Finance Minister’s remark that the paltry sum will help “ease the journey to the good life” to be both trite and insensitive.

“In the first instance the so-called “tax free bonus” bears a conspicuous resemblance to the kind of arbitrary periodic handout to which Public Servants have long been relegated by their employer and which epitomizes the accustomed lack of regard for Public Servants” the GPSU said.

More than that, the Union highlighted that the arbitrariness of the decision raises questions about the veracity of the political administration’s stated commitment to respect collective bargaining. It noted that the sums are directed at making “the poorly compensated Public Servants” feel some “misplaced” sense of gratitude for the decidedly modest ‘small piece’ that has been tacked on to their salaries.

The GPSU clarified its position that “the persistence of periodic handouts to Public Servants in a fashion that seeks to relegate them to mendicants (beggars) cannot and will not be allowed to replace fair, honest and genuine collective bargaining.”

The Union is of the view that such diversionary tactics should be replaced by a swift return to the negotiating table to resume the 2016 bilateral negotiations on the wages, salaries, allowances and representation improvement in other conditions for Public Servants.

Following several meetings in 2016, the Government gave the union a final offer of 10 percent increase in salaries for public servants working earning below $99, 000, and has made an offer of 1-6 for other categories of workers. The union did not agree to the offer, however, the government held fast to its claim that it was all it could afford and further went ahead with the payout of the increase.

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