Virtually all unionised workers at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) have withdrawn from the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), a move that the union’s president has stated would not be in keeping with the rules.
GGMC workers representative, Gregory Gaspar said up to September when the letter was dispatched to the union, 278 of the 389 unionised workers had signed. The others, he said, who are in the field would sign a similar letter.
He said the workers would soon be making arrangements to hold a poll to formally weed out the GPSU from the GGMC and be properly represented by another entity.
GPSU President Patrick Yarde has said his union was not aware of any “official withdrawal” of the GGMC. “A member resigning from this union must submit individually a letter of resignation and I am saying categorically that there has not been any member individually submitting a resignation to the Guyana Public Service Union,” he said.
Yarde said the GPSU “has a certificate of recognition for GGMC and it is in force- it is legally binding.” He said his union was ready for a trade union recognition poll. “This union respects freedom of association and would not stand in the way of any member who would like to leave the organisation,” he said.
Gaspar, who lost the questionable GPSU elections earlier this year, said since July, 2017 workers have asked that union dues not be deducted and paid to the GPSU. Based on that account, the union is losing almost GYD$500,000 per month, but Yarde repeatedly avoided answering direct questions about whether the GPSU was losing cash as a result of the decision by GGMC workers.
“That is a matter that I will not discuss here but I am saying to you clearly and definitively that GGMC dues are payable to this union and we will receive any or all that are outstanding,” he said. Yarde became upset when he was asked whether those payable dues were actually being paid. “I’m not going to get into that detail with you. I didn’t invite you here for that…because had I had the idea that you are coming here to ask me that I would have asked the accounts to tell me the receipt book and what is happening,” he said. Yarde said GGMC members do not even make up one-sixteenth of the union.
Gaspar said the letter was addressed to GPSU General Secretary, Kempton Alexander and so far the union has not responded. “You can’t want to be taking our dues and don’t want to properly account for it. It is over twelve years now the union has not been audited,” he said.
Yarde, at a news conference held last week shied away from calling a strike by public servants for increased wages and salaries, saying that when they engage in such industrial action they are not paid wages and salaries for the days they are off the job. No mention was made of strike relief, but he assured that the GPSU was ready to deal with tough situations even in the face of internal problems. “In this union, it is sturdy and we have capacity to deal with things,” he said.