The government’s an-nounced 5% public servants wage increase is “illegal,” according to the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), which says the Donald Ramotar administration has failed to honour a promise to end the annual practice of arbitrarily imposing the hike.
In a statement issued last Friday, the GPSU said it views “the illegal 5% imposition of salaries and wages for public sector workers as insensitive, grossly disrespectful and ruthless” and as a display of contempt for public workers, both with the amount being proposed and the manner in which the handout is being attempted.
According to the release, President Ramotar, at a meeting with the GPSU in January 2013, asked for a multi-year proposal for wages and salaries, while giving assurances that the annual impositions would cease.
The union said it submitted its multi-year proposals for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015. However, to date, after several reminders on the matter, the Office of the President has not furnished any official response.
“Is this an acceptable attitude for a self-proclaimed working class Government? Is this the desired attitude that we as a nation would like to inculcate in future leaders? Is this representative of our nation’s professionalism?” it questioned.
The union also quoted from the 2013 Budget Estimates, saying that the Appropriation Act reflected an allocation of G$29,130B to meet expenditure for “Wages and Salaries” and a further $4.404B for the “Revision of Wages and Salaries.” “…A basic arithmetical calculation represents the provision for the revision of wages and salaries as 15.12% of the provision for wages and salaries. While it is noteworthy that [Head of the Presidential Secretariat] Dr [Roger] Luncheon has acknowledged that this amount was passed in the 2013 National Budget in April, 2013, it is incongruous that a declaration of only 5% could be realistically made to Public Sector Workers,” it said, while asking whether Luncheon could say what government intends to do with the remaining 10% of the approved provision. It added that the opposition should also question government’s departure from the Parliament’s approved intention of at least a 15.12 % payout in 2013.
The release disclosed that GPSU had written the Public Service Ministry in March 2013 requesting an interim payout of the allocated sum, until settlement through negotiations. However there was no response to this request and to date the government has failed to meet for negotiations. It said that the Ministry of Labour was invited to conciliate between the two parties, but to date this has not materialised.
The GPSU stated that it will begin engaging in a series of activities to heighten awareness about the plight of the public servants, as well as calling on all members to challenge this abuse of authority. It said that the government’s action was in conflict with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions, in violation with the laws of Guyana and legally binding collective agreements.
It disclosed that the members of the GPSU, at the recently concluded Biennial Delegates Con-ference, had decided that they would no longer tolerate the insufficient and untimely imposition of increases in wages and salaries and the protracted denial, since 1995, of increases in allowances.
GPSU indicated that Luncheon had happily gloated about the impending increase saying that “it will come just in time to supplement the Christmas shopping,” while indicating that he too “was looking forward to receiving the retroactive increase.”
GPSU, in a scathing response, said, “Certainly the fat cats, who are paid significantly more, would enjoy 5% of their millions to satisfy their Christmas fantasies, without having to touch or deplete savings towards that end. The rest of the labour force, whose 5% realises the bare minimum, finds this payout as a meager aid towards defraying some of the outstanding debt that had piled on their shoulders over more than a year of neglect by an uncaring employer. Christ-mas then is but a name to many, but truly enjoyed by a few.”