No public sector wage negotiations before Commission of Inquiry reports

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 March 2016, 16:20 by Denis Chabrol

President David Granger on Thursday ruled out the commencement of wage and salary negotiations with trade unions before the conclusion of a commission of inquiry into the public service,  a position that was greeted by a  swift rejection from the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).

However, a well-placed source told Demerara Waves Online News that the three-member commission under the Chairmanship of Professor Harold Lutchman has set itself a deadline of March 30, 2016 to submit the report to President Granger.

Granger told reporters at the Pegasus Hotel that he could not say when the wage talks would begin as they are hinged on the report by the commission. “We are waiting on the report of the Lutchman Commission. I don’t know when that will be presented but we felt it would be imprudent to proceed without the benefit of the advice of that Commission,” he said.

Meanwhile, the GPSU is adamant that the report by the Commission of Inquiry has nothing to do with the start of wage and salary negotiations. “The Terms of Reference of the Lutchman Commission have nothing to do with negotiations.  The two have no bearing. We can’t understand why he (Granger) keeps saying that,” GPSU Vice President Mortimer Livan told Demerara Waves Online News.

The terms of reference of the commission of inquiry states that it is to inquire into, report on, and make recommendations on the role, functions, recruitment process, remuneration and conditions of service for public servants. The Commission is also expected to determine measures to improve the efficiency of the public service. There was also expected to be a detailed examination of how the salaries and wages are determined and allocated.

The other members of the Commission are Sandra Jones and the Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry’s Samuel Goolsarran.

Dating back to January 7, 2016, the Commission has received testimony from more than 200 persons and received statements and memoranda from a similar number of persons. Hearings were held in Georgetown, Linden, Berbice, Essequibo and Bartica.

The President has repeatedly stressed that he wants a professional rather than a bribe-able public service. Steps are being taken to begin offering courses at a Public Service Staff College to certain categories of government employees.

General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has already called on government to use the Human Development Index to engage in collective bargaining in keeping with the Trade Union Recognition Act.  In this case, more than ever the Government of Guyana is called upon to respect the law and the workers’ rights and negotiate with the public sector unions in good faith. The HDI index that was used to determine salary increases for Cabinet and Members of Parliament who are government workers, must also be used as the barometer in determining wages and salaries for the remaining government workers,” he said.