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Boycotting GECOM commissioners, MPs must not be paid – trade union boss

PPP-nominated election commissioners Sase Gunraj, Bibi Shadick and Robeson Benn.

General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis at Wednesday’ s May Day observance called for the three opposition-nominated elections commissioners and lawmakers not to be paid for the meetings from which they had walked out.

“If GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission) can’t work and the commissioners breaking up meeting and walking out, then all you will have to say ‘don’t pay those people’. I want (to) tell you this is serious business. You can’t get one standard for the political operatives and then another standard for the man down here,” Lewis told a rally at the National Park.

He cited the need for an “across-the-board” treatment for those who don’t work in the same way as striking workers are not paid by their employers. Similarly, he said, parliamentarians who boycott sittings of the National Assembly should not be paid salaries.

“Those who do not go to the National Assembly must not be paid because the people who they represent when they strike are not paid,” the trade unionist said. He urged the lawmakers to take their issues to the National Assembly, “Thrash them out there and debate them” there.

Governing parliamentarians have walked out of the National Assembly whenever Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo delivered his contribution to wrap up annual budget debates.

Recently, opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali admitted that he was still receiving salaries although his party has decided to boycott parliamentary sittings as part of its position not to recognise the government following the passage of the no-confidence motion.

The PPP-nominated election commissioners – Robeson Benn, Sase Gunraj and Bibi Shadick – have walked out of several meetings of the seven-member electoral body over whether to push through with house-to-house registration to refresh the voters’ list following an opposition-backed no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018.

The PPP and its commissioners have held the position that GECOM ought to have activated systems to hold the general elections within the 90-day period. When the Commission did not do so and the three government-backed commissioners – Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman – insisted on house-to-house registration before the next elections, the PPP said there was a conspiracy between the government and its three commissioners to derail the process.