GPSU threatens industrial action, condemns Gov’t “take it or leave it” approach on wages
By Devina Samaroo
In an all too familiar cry, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has promised industrial action unless the government bows down to their demands on salary increases for workers in the public sector.
As teachers countrywide prepare to strike in protest for their benefits, the Union is also moving towards similar actions.
President of the Union, Patrick Yarde declared during a press conference Friday that he strongly believes there is a conspiracy to deny workers of the public sector their entitled benefits inclusive of improved allowances and salaries.
“I am saying to you categorically, that the government can do better in paying public servants. You look around and see how money can be found to do a variety of things; right in this location, you can see (the renovations to the Ministry of the Presidency on Shiv Chanderpaul Drive). Why money cannot be found to pay the people who right now slaving in the public service?”
Yarde argued that “it is a deliberate attempt to keep them in poverty” as he questioned why allowances that were last increased in the 1990s are still being paid to public servants today when on the other hand, ministers receive allowances at the “going rate”.
The government had announced a final offer of increases from 8% at the lowest salary to 0.5% up to GYD$1 million.
Yarde said the Union has rejected this offer on the grounds that the government cannot proceed with negotiations for 2017 when it is yet to complete the talks for last year.
He nonetheless encouraged the workers to take the increases as he understands that they desperately need it.
According to Yarde, the government has adopted a take it or leave it approach, knowing that the workers will accept the bliss and move on.
“We are feeling betrayed because we struggled for good governance and we had an expectation that there would be positive changes and for the last three years we have gone through significant frustrations in our efforts to get that,” he stated.
Yarde said, “we have even written letters of congratulations and encouragement hoping that that goodwill and that decency was significant but definitely that does not seem to be the overwhelming outlook of those who influence decisions.”
The Union said its members will no longer be taken advantage of and promised to show the government what workers in the public sector are capable of doing.
Yarde, however, staunchly refused to say how or when there will be any form of industrial action. He also dismissed speculations that, as President of the GPSU, he will be unable to rally its members to execute a demonstration forceful enough to make a significant impact.