With no talks on increases, public servants receive ‘poverty’ payments – GPSU

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Two weeks before the presentation of the 2019 National Budget, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has expressed disappointment that there has been no formal negotiation of public servants’ wage increase.

“We’re very unhappy that the practice continues where the Government frustrate these negotiations to the end of the year,” President of the GPSU, Patrick Yarde told the media at a press conference on Wednesday.

Yarde noted that the Union was given the assurance that this practice will cease but “it continues.”

However, he noted that the Union will not sign anything that is not adequate.”

“We’ll go to the sky for the limit,” he said.

Yarde added that “for a lot of public servants, we see poverty payments. Lots of them, ends cannot meet with what they’re getting.”

He noted that in 2016, the Government had used the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Public Service as a reason to stall wage talks but now “the coast is clear.”

Though the CoI was completed and recommendations were submitted for improvements to the public service, he also noted that “up to now we can’t get a discussion on that.”

Mr. Yarde noted that there are also outstanding issues from 2015 to be discussed.

Speaking at his Regent and Shiv Chanderpaul Drive office in Georgetown, the Union leader further pointed out that an agreement signed with the Government had provided for the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Department of Public Service, Reginald Brotherson to head talks on wage negotiations but thus far, the Union has been unable to make contact with Brotherson.

News Room understands that the PS is attending an international conference in Guyana and has not been in office.

Yarde said letters were written to President David Granger about “the frustrations” the union has encountered and the President offered to hold a meeting.

When contacted by the News Room, Permanent Secretary (ag) of the Department of Public Service, Andrew Grant could not say when Brotherson will return.

“As of now, I cannot say what is the current position,” Grant said.

However, he sought to assure that the GPSU will be engaged shortly by the Government.

At the GPSU’s upcoming executive council meeting on Friday, the Union President said the issue will be further discussed.

The Union is hoping that the issue is settled soon so that it does not have to go down the line of a countrywide protest.

In 2015, 2016 and 2017, the Government unilaterally announced wages increases after negotiations faltered.

Last year, the GPSU had raised concerns about the previous year’s wage negotiations becoming incomplete.

However, after some weeks of negotiations, the Government made a final offer of 8% for those earning between $55,555 and $99,999, 6% increase for public servants receiving between $100,000 and $299,999, 5 % increase for those earning between $300,000 and $499,999, 4% for those earning between $500,000 and $699,999, 2% for those earning between $700,000 and $799,000 and those earning between $800,000 and $1 million -a 0.5% increase.

The offer was rejected by the Union but it was a “take it or leave it” offer.

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