The Office of the President (OP) yesterday once again arbitrarily announced an across-the-board pay hike of nine per cent for public service workers, retroactive to January 1 of this year.
The statement by OP said the formalities would be concluded to allow for the deadline of a payout no later than December 13. This has been the practice of the government for the last few years as it has repeatedly been unable to reach agreement with the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), which represents the workers.
While the nine per cent is up one per cent on the government’s original offer, it is still far from the 14 per cent the GPSU had demanded.
The government’s move, announced in a statement from OP yesterday afternoon, came as a surprise to the union, sources said, since a meeting was scheduled for tomorrow.
GPSU President Patrick Yarde and his general secretary are out of the country but the sources confirmed that the meeting was planned and as such, the government’s announcement came as a surprise. “This announcement by the government is very unfair to us,” one source said yesterday. Last week, the GPSU said at a press conference that it was asking the government for a 14 per cent pay increase for this year and for the wage deficit from 2002-6 to be taken care of. At that time, the union had said it was concerned with the lack of progress in negotiations but was looking forward to a meeting with the government this week. However, according to the sources, the government did not commit to this meeting in writing.
Yarde, at the press conference last week, had said that the union was giving the government a fair opportunity to respond to its requests and if the time came to do something, should the request not be met, it would. He said since the perception was that the union was confrontational, this year it had decided to avoid certain assertions since there was no intention to cause prejudice but rather to be rational in its approach.
The OP statement yesterday said the office had been kept informed by the bargaining agents engaged in the pay hike negotiations and ex-pressed regret that after months of negotiations there continued, “to be difficulties in arriving at a mutually acceptable solution. The government is indeed pleased over the very enlightened manner in which these talks were conducted. We believe that with the discussions that transpired during the negotiations process, the way has been paved for improved working relations between the government and the union,” the statement said.
However, the government said, it had not lost sight of the fact that workers expected to receive wage and salary increases for this year in a timely manner and as such decided to act. “The decision clearly reflected the slim likelihood of an agreement being reached in time to effect payment before the end of the year,” the statement said.
In the meantime, the government commended the workers for their dedication shown throughout the year and for their patience and understanding with respect to the wages issue while assuring them that their welfare and well-being are always taken into consideration in the management of the national economy.