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Parliamentary motion for higher wages and salaries unlikely- Granger

Flash back: Public servants protesting outside Office of the President

Chairman of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), David Granger on Sunday virtually ruled out his opposition alliance tabling a motion in the House to call on government to pay higher wages and salaries and lower the 16 percent Value Added Tax (VAT).

Speaking on the Peoples National Congress Reform’s (PNCR) television programme, Nation Watch, Granger explained that the law does not permit the opposition to increase budgetary allocations. “There is no way we can ensure the compliance of the government on financial matters,” he said.

He stopped short of saying that the opposition, which has a combined one-seat majority in the 65-seat House, would be wasting its time to introduce such a motion because government would do nothing.

“We could do it but those actions would not necessarily have an effect,” said Granger who declared 2014 as the “Year of Workers”. The Opposition Leader noted that even if a motion was tabled, it would be only declaratory and could not be enforced.

Granger made known his position even as the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has been clamouring for a 15 percent increase in wages and salaries rather than the five percent hike that was retroactive to January, 2013.

The GPSU, backed by the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), wants government to end its 13-year old practice of imposing wages and salaries rather than holding negotiations in accordance with Collective Labour Agreements and the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention that guarantees the right to collective bargaining.

He cited government’s track record in ignoring opposition-piloted and approved bills and motions. The Donald Ramotar administration has said that it was not obliged to assent to opposition-approved laws that do not benefit from the input of the Executive.

APNU and the Alliance For Change have endorsed the GPSU’s demand for a living wage. The union has taken the matter to conciliation, one step before arbitration.

If arbitration is held, workers could possibly end up being made more than the five percent. But government and the ruling Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) have already countered by saying that hefty wage increases can fuel inflation and weaken the real value and purchasing power of the Guyana dollar.