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Govt, GPSU agree to suspend nurses’ industrial unrest

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the Guyana government on Wednesday agreed to suspend industrial unrest by nurses to pave the way for negotiations between the two sides over the next two weeks, according to well-placed sources.

The agreement was inked by GPSU Vice President Dawn Gardener and government representative, Dr. Jennifer Westford.

Details of the accord were not immediately available, but it effectively stalls a  strike-plan that the union had intended to call from Wednesday on expiration of a 72-hour ultimatum on Tuesday. The nurses are pressing demands for increased salaries, more personal protective equipment and increased COVID-19 risk allowances for frontline healthcare workers.

The GPSU has been avoiding media questions about efforts to resolve the dispute, and had never made any mention of backdoor consultations with the government through Dr. Westford. Union officials have instead said a news conference would be held or a press statement would be issued.

Vice President Gardener, General Secretary Kempton Alexander and Dr. Westford have over the last few days been visiting the West Demerara Regional Hospital, hospitals in Linden and Berbice, and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation to get a sense of the grievances.

The joint delegation met with GPHC nurse representatives at that health care institution on Tuesday.

After Attorney General Anil Nandlall threatened the nurses and the union with criminal charges, dismissals and violation of the laws, the turnout by the nurses has waned down to double-digit figures.