GPSU protest march attracts low turnout

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 December 2015, 21:00 by GxMedia

Public servants marched Friday morning for better wages and salaries.

About 100 public servants on Friday began marching through the streets of Georgetown as part of their ongoing efforts to pressure government into paying more than a five percent increase for this year.

They chanted “What we demand? A living wage, “Five percent shut down.”

GPSU President Patrick Yarde attributed poor turnout to the police force’s late approval of application for the march.

“This is not about numbers. We will prevail and we will be successful,” said Yarde, alluding to the 57-day strike several years ago that started off small and saw the workers eventually get hefty increases. 

He said the workers were protesting not only the five percent retroactive increase but the imposition of the wage hike rather than negotiating for the 13th straight year.

“No one is superior to the law. What we are protesting is abuse of the law,” he said.  The International Labour Organisation Convention on Collective Bargaining has long been ratified by Guyana.

He urged workers to show that they were “prepared to stand for our right.” Yarde chided the Donald Ramotar-led administration for disrespecting workers right. 

“There is disrespect for workers’ rights from a regime that claims to have working class credentials,” he said.

The GPSU official maintained that the budget had enough money since April to pay thrice the 5 percent being offered.

The approved route of the march is east along Regent Street from the GPSU headquarters, south along Vlissengen Road, west along Brickdam, North into Avenue of the Republic (western half), continuing into Main Street, East into Lamaha Street, south along Main Street, east into Church Street, south into New Garden Street, into Shiv Chanderpaul Drive to conclude back at the headquarters.

The police did not approve the union’s application to make its return to HQ by way of Regent Street. As the march turned from west along Brickdam south along Avenue of the Republic and on to Main Street, vehicular traffic snarled at most intersections.

Several unarmed police were deployed in vehicles that accompanied the protesters on the route.