Finance Minister seemingly prejudices expected wage negotiations

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 March 2016, 21:41 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Public  Service Union (GPSU) on Thursday expressed concern that government appeared to be sending mixed signals about its commitment to pay higher wages and salaries, saying that Finance Minister Winston Jordan’s utterances could prejudice negotiations.

“The Union, further, shudders to think that the Minister – whether on his own volition or acting on some other directive – might be seeking the infuse an element of unhealthy prejudice into the negotiations with the GPSU on a salary increase for public servants ahead of the start of these negotiations,”  the GPSU said.

“What the Union finds particularly disconcerting, is that, reportedly in response to a question regarding negotiations for a pay increase for public servants, is his alleged…I don’t know about room to negotiate…we will negotiate a salary increase that is sustainable and that we can meet with projected growth” remark. Those, in our view, are not the words of an individual who is amenable to negotiations, but one who comes to the table with preconditions that taint the negotiating environment long before the discourse even begins,” said the collective bargaining agent.

The union’s disquiet came one day after the Finance Minister cautioned public servants and other government employees expecting huge salary increases because they could lead to a cut in wages or jobs in the future. Jordan has also categorically stated that he agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Guyana should guard against significant wage growth and instead settle for a hike that is sustainable.

“If it is the Minister’s right, as an individual and in whatever capacity, to hold a view on the issue of salary increases, it is, to say the least, altogether inappropriate for him to publicly pronounce in the manner that he did in the immediate aftermath of a meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as though he were fulfilling an expectation,” the union said.

Against that background, the GPSU called on the Guyana government to state categorically whether the Finance Minister’s position represents that of the entire David Granger-led administration especially since the Guyanese leader has often cited the need for a well-equipped public service to deliver quality service. “Anything less, we believe, could have the effect of creating an unwholesome environment ahead of the much-anticipated negotiations on a meaningful increase in wages and salaries for Public Servants.”

The GPSU said it needed urgent assurances that Jordan’s position was not a collective Guyana government position instead of  being taken “down a path of bad faith as the time for negotiating salary increases approaches.” “It is not the opinion of the GPSU that the remarks attributed to Mr. Jordan are consistent with what we understand to be the high premium which His Excellency the President has publicly placed on the importance of the Public Service as a critical institution in the envisaged development of Guyana. Indeed, and regrettably so, in the Union’s view, what the Minister had to say bears an uncanny resemblance of the dismissive posture which the previous political administration was customarily inclined to take in its dealings with public servants,” the union stated.