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Industrial unrest against 5% spreading

West Demerara Regional Hospital staff on the picket line

Industrial unrest among government employees for fatter pay packets appears to be slowly spreading with workers of the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH) being the latest group to take to the picket line.

At least 50 WDRH staffers staged a picketing demonstration outside that health care institution at Best Village, West Coast Demerara.

Other entities that also participated in the midday protest were the Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC) headquarters, the Linden Hospital Complex, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

They are all venting their anger at the five percent retroactive pay hike for 2013 that government intends to pay out by next month.

At the WDRH, workers’ placards read, among other, slogans “We want 25% or give us the 15% from the budget,” “Public servants are not Christmas Ponies,” and “5% can’t work. Public servants are not slaves.”

“We decided to go out today (Monday) to protest the five percent because we are aware that enough money was passed in the budget that give public servants at least 15 percent back-pay this year,” Jiemyma Armstrong told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).

At the same time, workers of the Geology and Mines Commission and Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) used their lunch-hour to vent their anger at the five percent retroactive pay hike for 2013.

The governing Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) on Monday, however, stuck with the government’s line that the coffers could did not have enough money to pay more than the estimated five percent. “We have to take account of what is going on in the country. Increases can only be paid in accordance with the affordability of the State to pay those increases,” said PPP Central Committee member Anil Nandlall.

Nandlall blamed the combined opposition for cutting the budget by GUY$32 billion, saying that has resulted in job losses and lower than expected economic growth.

The projects included the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, the Specialty Hospital and the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). He also noted

“The opposition orchestrating all these damaging acts against the economy-what do you expect? You will have less jobs and the country will be not in a position to pay more than five percent so the opposition must take the responsibility for the five percent and the failure of the economy to provide jobs,” he added.

Nandlall, who is also Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, said the opposition’s voting down of the amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) act would also impact negatively on the economy.