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Public Service Union threatens strike action

Flash back: The opening of the GPSU’s biennial delegates conference at the National Cultural Centre on September 25,2013.

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) is reiterating its call on government to make a 25% across the board pay increase failing which strike action may be taken by its 6000 strong members.

This is according to GPSU Head Patrick  Yarde who stated today at a press  briefing at Shiv Chanderpaul Drive that the move may be taken by its members after government has failed to honour payments to workers in the public sector following the passage of monies in this year’s budgetary allocation.  

“Public workers you must just be in a state of readiness to stand up for your rights because its all clear to us that when we do this that people respect us”, Yarde said as he pointed to the likelihood of possible strike action.

Yarde said that Since last year the body submitted to the Ministry of Finance in which it called  for a 25 %increase to be included in the budget.  

Following the Budget , he said that the GPSU subsequently met with President Ramotar who stated that he preferred if the government address the issue of increases over a multi year plan   
Yarde noted that the GPSU started its work and eventually for the period  2013 to 2015 proposals were submitted to Mr Hydar Ally , the Permanent Secretary at the Public Service Ministry on May 13. ” To date no meeting has been held”, Yarde stated noting that letters to this effect has been sent to the agency. He said Ally noted that h e was awaiting guidance on the issue.
 
According to him, there are no reasons why government shouldn’t make the payments, noting that payments were already paid to police and teachers.  “We concluded that there was an unwillingness to pay, this dates back to 1999”, he noted as he recounted in that year arbitrators agreed to the reintroduction of increments to workers.

He said that at the body’s recent congress the matter was discussed. “We discussed this matter at our biennual delegate congress” adding that with the President’s trade union grounding he felt there would have been an improvement but he noted “-t  is sad to say that the situation seems to be worst”.  According to Yarde, he never heard a public comment from President Ramotar about public servants salaries.  ” It appears the P in the PPP no longer means people” ,he said noting that while there is public discussion on government projects there is no mention about workers.

He said that the GPSU also wrote Labour Ministry on the issue , noting that the Chief Labour Officer was asked to engage the body on conciliation but to date have not invited GPSU, a move he deemed surprising adding that  it is not consistent with the character of the current Minister of Labour.

 He also expressed disappointment that the Private Sector Commission as well as the Opposition has been silent on the issue.  
The GPSU’s delegates’ conference that was held from September 25 to 27 had mandated the GPSU’s executive to give the government notice to go to the bargaining table within two weeks and conclude the negotiations in one month.

The union also wants an increase in several allowances which have stagnated for at least 10 years now. They include leave passage, hinterland, medical, travelling and uniform allowances.