GPSU demands tax-free retroactive risk allowances for healthcare workers before Christmas

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 December 2020, 21:55 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has written President Irfaan Ali, demanding 10% to 30% risk allowances retroactive to January, 2020 as well as a bonus of one-month tax-free salary for all frontline healthcare workers.

In a letter to the Guyanese leader, the union is also separately demanding a one-month tax-free salary to all healthcare workers as a separate payout. “A minimum of one-month salary equivalent tax-free bonus is merited, but this is distinct or separate and should not be substituted for the deserving risk allowance,” GPSU Vice President Dawn Gardener said in the letter dated December 14.

The GPSU asked  Dr. Ali to pay frontline healthcare workers, with effect from 1st January 2020, 10% of salary for unskilled workers; 15% of salary per month for skilled workers; 20% of the salary for technicians/junior professionals and 30% of salary for senior professions. “It is the unwavering position of GPSU that frontline workers are our most precious human resources at this time, they are a caring workforce with life and death responsibilities and must be valued, respected, and cared for and treated with attention,” the union said.

The GPSU hoped that the workers could get the payments before Christmas, 2020.

The union said the demand dates back to two years ago under the David Granger-led administration when two ultimatums had been issued to the Ministry of Health and the Georgetown Public Hospital.

Noting that industrial action had eventually commenced but later aborted with the involvement of former government minister Dr. Jennifer Westf0rd in what had appeared to have been “serious considerations” to “address urgently and fully all proposals by the Union, in the true spirit of Collective Bargaining until the recent announcement of a two-week bonus. “The Government’s recent announcement by Your Excellency of a one-off two week equivalent end of year bonus for health care workers is viewed by the GPSU as an act of bad faith and a departure from the rapport that we taught,” the union official said.

The Union  stated that the frontline health sector workers have been risking their lives and that of their families by battling the adverse and deadly effects of Covid-19, among other things, to provide quality health care to the nation, without adequate compensation.

The critical issue of the principle used for identifying and categorising frontline workers was discussed with Dr. Westford, a framework from which the Government appears to be departing