Make interim 12% payout to public servants

-GPSU urges Finance Minister
The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) is calling on the Finance Minister to pay workers what is due to them without delay saying that no less than 12% should be paid in the interim in keeping with the $2.3B already voted for the revision of salaries in the 2009 budget.

In a statement on Saturday, the GPSU reiterated that the 2009 allocation for wages and salaries for this year is $19.4B, which, it said, represents an increase of 14% over last year’s allocation. It called for an equitable distribution of the $2.3B allocated for the revision of salaries and “if this is done in keeping with the principle of equitable distribution, an interim payment of 12% could be made to each worker in the public service”.

The union said that it continues to demand that there be a professional public service to deliver quality services to citizens and in a similar vein, public service employees must be paid a livable salary so that they can satisfy their basic needs and be able to provide quality services to the public in return.

The GPSU noted that it wrote to Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh in November last year and outlined 23 points to be considered for inclusion in the budget. These included hiking the income tax threshold to $100,000 per month and a reduction of the income tax rate from 33.3% to 20%. The union said that last Thursday it again wrote to Dr. Singh to bring to his attention the need to give urgent consideration to increasing the tax threshold so that some immediate economic relief can be brought to the workers to buttress the prevailing adverse economic situation.

Another letter dispatched the same day by the union asked Dr. Singh to resolve the outstanding claim for the payment of increments to the public service workers which it said is ten years overdue and which formed part of the Armstrong Tribunal Award of 1999. “This untenable situation has caused many public service workers who have not earned promotion to be paid at the same level as those currently joining the public service. This is demoralizing, unacceptable, inequitable, unjust and unfair since experienced and inexperienced workers are paid on the same scale. The Union’s request is for this matter to be given immediate attention”, the statement said. The GPSU said that in another correspondence, it expressed its concern to the Finance Minister that the union had noted that the allocations for revision of salaries and wages passed by the National Assembly over the past years were not appropriated nor were they fully expended for the purposes for which they were intended.

The union said that workers in general and those in the public service in particular, are experiencing severe economic hardships and there has been a decrease and in many instances a halt in remittances being sent by family members and friends. As such, the GPSU said, workers now have to face the full brunt of the high cost of living and their salaries cannot maintain them for one month. It is in this context, it said, that the Finance Minister is being urged to make every effort to bring immediate relief to the workers.

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