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Govt employees begin protesting 5% pay increase; PSM denies GPSU’s claims of no talks

GGMC workers protesting outside their headquarters on Brickdam

Public servants on Friday began industrial unrest, in the wake of a five percent retroactive pay-hike for this year announced by government earlier this week.

Nurses at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and workers of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) were among those who picketed outside their workplaces.

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) on Thursday decided to phase in industrial action beginning first with picketing demonstrations then sit-ins, go-slows and possibly strikes.

GGMC workers held placards that read, among other slogans, “5% can’t work. This eyepass must stop,” “Public sector workers demand 25%,” “Stop dangling Christmas carrots. We want 25%. Public workers are not ponies,” and “Our work is real, our value is real. Our wages and salaries must be real.”gphc wages20132nd Vice President of the union, Dawn Gardener confirmed that workers were angry about the five percent pay increase. “The picketing is based on the five percent increase because the union had asked for 25 (percent) and they only gave us five so that is why the staff is reacting,” she said.

The GPSU has dispatched their grievance to the Ministry of Labour for Conciliation.

Although the union has maintained that government has ignored repeated requests for negotiations, Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford said she has evidence that the two sides have been communicating about the demand for pay increases.

“I don’t want to agree with the union on that. We were speaking…Negotiations- when we are talking that’s what we are doing all the time because when the union comes to speak with the Public Service Ministry that represents the government on those issues, they are issues for negotiations and that’s what we do,” she said.

Westford said the two sides last met in either March or June and subsequently the GPSU wrote the PSM saying that the talks were not going anywhere and they would have been going to Conciliation.