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GPSU says pay dispute at “deadlock” stage; to invoke conciliation

The 2016 "final" pay offer by the Guyana government.

The 2016 “final” pay offer by the Guyana government.

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) on Friday formally decided that it would be taking its pay dispute with government to conciliation.

Maintaining that governent’s final offer of 10 percent for lowest paid workers and one percent for highest paid public servants was unsatisfactory, the union said its Executive Council decided to inform the Chief Labour, Occupational, Safety and Health Officer of the Ministry responsible for Labour that it needs to enter into conciliation.

President David Granger and Finance Minister Winston Jordan have said that the pay offer was the best that government could afford due to falling commodity prices on the world market. Jordan has stressed that the key is to ensure that Guyana’s treasury can sustain the increases in years to come. Prior to winning the 2015 general elections,  the governing APNU+AFC coalition had promised a 20 percent increase in wages and salaries.

If conciliation breaks down, the two sides could move to the next stage of arbitration. A 1999 Arbitration process had seen public servants being awarded hefty pay increases compared to government’s then measly offer.

“In this regard, the Union takes the opportunity to restate its position that the employer’s expressed “final offer” is unreasonable and unacceptable and to state further that it considers the matter deadlocked since the September 14, 2016 between teams representing the Government of Guyana negotiators and the GPSU,” the union said.

The GPSU’s Executive Council expressed “serious concern over the seeming insensitivity and absence of a sense of urgency” by government in dealing with the various other outstanding associated with public servants’ emoluments including de-bunching, increments and allowances.

“In this latter regard the Executive Council took a decision that the Government of Guyana be written to with regard to these matters with a view to having them dealt with expeditiously.”

Te GPSU also used the opportunity to state that the Guyana government appears to be reneging on its commitment to have separate negotiations for wages, salaries and allowance for semi-autonomous agencies. “This position is based on information reaching the Union that what is being implemented in the Public Service is also being applied in semi-autonomous agencies.”