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GPSU criticises one-month bonus to Joint Services

President Donald Ramotar lends a hand in sharing lunch at the GDF Christmas luncheon at Base Camp Ayanganna (GINA photo)

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and other security agencies will get one month’s bonus plus the five percent back-pay, a move the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) says is aimed at splitting loyalties.

President Donald Ramotar on Friday announced the extra-cash package at the annual Christmas luncheon held at the GDF’s headquarters, Camp Ayanganna.

The state-run Government Information Agency (GINA) quoted the Guyanese leader as saying that hoped that the bonus would contribute to the officers enjoying the holidays, and that they could begin the New Year fully refreshed and hopefully re-invigorated to carry out their work.

But GPSU President, Patrick Yarde-addressing an after-march meeting at the union’s headquarters-cautioned members of the security forces not to regard the bonus as an inducement to oppose their fellow government employees. “They feel at the end of the year they can give some people a one-month bonus and think that can contribute to a division with people for some to turn on others.

“They feel everything has a price and they feel that you are so cheap that they could deal with you in that manner and others are so cheap that they could give them a month’s salary to turn upon you,” he said.

Yarde’s exhortation came as the union on Friday began week-day street marches through the streets of Georgetown to demand higher wages and salaries and respect for collective bargaining.

Addressing the estimated 100 persons who marched largely on the margins of commercial Georgetown, the General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis chided government for using the Treasury to speedily settle sugar workers’ demand for an Annual Production Incentive. “What the government has been doing is promoting industrial discrimination in this country. You have to stand up. It is time that you understand that the journey will be long,” he said.

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the management of the state-run Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) settled the dispute after the union called a one-day strike because its requests for talks about the bonus were being ignored.

GINA reported that President Ramotar also called on the soldiers to take care with the equipment supplied to the army.  He pointed out that Government spends millions on the equipment to ensure the army remains efficient and effective, and damaging these only places demands on the infinite resources available to Government that could have been expended elsewhere, bringing greater service to the people.

“We still have to fight poverty in our country, we still have to create more jobs for our people, and we still have to provide quality education and quality health care to all our people and therefore, if we can care our equipment that we have so that we can have longer service from them, at a very high level and have value for money. Then indirectly, you will be making another form of contribution to the development of Guyana,” he said.

Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier Mark Phillips noted that 2013 was a good year for the army. He described it as one where the officers and ranks continue to serve Guyana, defend and maintain law and order, the constitution and the way of life, and protect the national interest.

This is Brigadier Phillip’s first luncheon as Chief -of- Staff with the soldiers having been appointed to the position in September. He said the change has been seamless and the force remains a professional organisation.