The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) says the nation must become aware of and arrest the violation of civil and workers rights as they have the potential to lead to wider abuses; further threatening the tenets of good governance.
In his New Year’s message, GPSU president Patrick Yarde said as the union celebrates its 90th year of service its theme ‘In Defence of Labour Rights Nationally’ has become particularly relevant due to the industrial relations climate that currently obtains.
“The continued arbitrary imposition of salary increases and other benefits conditions, in the process repudiating legally binding collective bargaining agreements; failure to bargain in good faith with recognised unions in violation of agreements pertaining to such practices”; while at the same time interfering in the internal affairs of unions are all within its experience and is in danger of becoming common practice, he said in a press release. These practices violate the Constitution and Laws of Guyana and core International Labour Organisation Conventions which government is obliged to observe.
The GPSU head said workers have been “systematically deprived of elements designed for their protection.” Further, he noted that over time there has been significant recognition and support from major sections of the public against the undermining effects of such violations of workers’ rights. “Nonetheless we have failed to galvanise broad based ongoing support to reverse these trends” causing these practices to have become more entrenched and to blossom into “glaring civil and human rights abuses.”
Yarde also noted that the failure of certain states, donors and international organisations in their dealings with receiving states that violate workers rights adds to the problem. “To recognise and treat such phenomena as unacceptable, and apply corrective action such as insisting on certain codes of conduct and (conditionalities) is necessary and must be done,” he posited.
The GPSU posited that ultimately this is a national problem which must concern all citizens for it has the potential to open the door to much wider human rights violations and further undermine the tenets of good governance – constitutionality and legality; transparency, integrity, credibility, accountability and equitable treatment for all.
In the wake of this, the GPSU is focused on sensitising its membership and the public about the necessity of addressing national issues that affect development and detract from their quality of life. “We recognise that power resides in us and that it is our responsibility therefore to fearlessly take up the challenge…I urge and invite you to close ranks and let us move forward with resilience,” Yarde said.
He further noted that in doing so citizens will be guaranteeing themselves, their children and grandchildren a more secure foundation for a safe, modernised and rapidly developing Guyana in a state of good governance, with credible institutions manned by people who possess integrity. Among its goals for 2013 the GPSU plans to elect an executive council that will streamline its efforts to correct many problems which prevailed last year and to mitigate those bound to emerge during this year. It aims to have a national trade union movement that is independent and insulated from partisan political influence; a modernised career public service in which professionalism, due process and fairness would be guaranteed, resulting in the start of the process to eliminate contract employment.
The union also plans to complete negotiations for wages, salaries and allowan-ces for 2012 and introduce the process of a living wage for public sector workers and the payment of annual increments. It aims to implement the Union Institutional Strengthening Plan; restore the Agency Shop Agreement between the government and union and establish and enhance recreational facilities for union members with employers’ support and assistance.