Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2021, 7:55 by Denis Chabrol
The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has proposed an interim 10 percent pay hike for public servants, even as government parliamentarians remained mum on the issue.
APNU+AFC frontbencher, Khemraj Ramjattan called his request a “simple demand” retroactive to January 2021 pending talks with the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and other unions representing government workers.
“It is in recognition of the hardship faced by public servants today in this COVID period. Please, if you have any heart, ensure that that happens. We would like lots more but a 10 percent minimum is what we seek at this stage,” he told the National Assembly during debate on the 2021 National Budget.
No mention has been made of a wage and salary hike in Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh’s 2021 National Budget speech but Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has said that GYD$10 billion have been set aside for the revision of wages and salaries this year.
Public Service Minister Sonia Parag, in her contribution to the debate, stayed clear of mentioning anything about a pay hike.
Opposition lawmaker, Dawn Hastings-Williams and Former Public Service Minister Tabitha Sarabo-Halley also called on government to state how much more public servants and members of the security forces would be earning from this year before negotiations begin. “So, yes, there may be 10 billion dollars allocated and collective bargaining is indeed necessary but only time will tell whether they are all smokescreens or maybe they will be pressured into announcing a salary increase to our deserving public servants by the end of this budget debate; we can only hope for the letter,” she said.
Ms. Sarabo-Halley also said if there were wage talks with the GPSU between September 2020 and January 2021, then that union had not engaged had not informed workers of the outcome. “Maybe it was and the union has not only chosen to remain silent on this matter but to also not inform the persons who they represent,” she said.