Public service wage negotiations closer

-as commission of inquiry report submitted

The report on the Commission of Inquiry (Coi) into the Public Service was yesterday submitted to the Ministry of the Presidency, bringing wage negotiations with the civil servants’ unions closer.

President David Granger yesterday also hailed the submission of the report as an important step in making the public service more efficient.

The report, which was submitted to the President at his office on Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, chronicles the findings of a three-person commission, which was mandated to inquire into, report on, and make recommendations on the role, functions, recruitment process, remuneration and conditions of service for public servants.

Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Public Service Harold Lutchman (second from right) presents the CoI’s report to President David Granger as commissioners Sandra Jones (second from left) and Samuel Goolsarran look on.  (Photo by Keno George)
Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Public Service Harold Lutchman (second from right) presents the CoI’s report to President David Granger as commissioners Sandra Jones (second from left) and Samuel Goolsarran look on. (Photo by Keno George)

Chair of the commission Professor Harold Lutchman along with commissioners Sandra Jones and Samuel Goolsarran were sworn in in August of last year as commissioners to fulfil the commission’s mandate. After months of testimony and written submissions, the commission completed its work in February.

The report has since been highly-anticipated as the government has indicated that it will only finalise wage negotiations with the various public service unions after the report had been received.

In March, President Granger, responding to a call from the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) to begin negotiations, emphasised that the normal bargaining process between the Ministry of Finance and the union would be followed but made it clear that this would not be done in the absence of the CoI report.

“We’re waiting on the report of the Lutchman Commission. I don’t know when that will be presented but we felt it would be imprudent to proceed without the benefit of the advice of that commission,” he had said.

Critics had argued that the absence of the report did not prevent the government from implementing a 50% wage hike for Cabinet ministers and substantial increases for other ministers and officials.

Yesterday, the president explained that before the negotiations can be completed, the Cabinet and the various unions will be given an opportunity to study the report.

The report will also be shared with the Leader of the Opposition and, eventually, when deliberations have been completed, it will be submitted to the National Assembly.

These deliberations will also be followed by the ministries of Social Protection and Finance engaging the relevant unions in negotiations.  The process outlined by the president suggests that collective bargaining, which the Trades Union Congress has called for, may take a few months yet.

The president expressed the hope that the report will be a launch pad for differentiated emoluments for workers.

“We have to go back to a standard where performance of individuals is related to promotion and pay. We have fallen into the trap of across-the-board benefits; people feel that simply by going to work they will benefit. They are like a rudderless ship floating on an ocean of goodwill. Many people who expect that there is going to be some bonanza, I hope they discover that the bonanza will come from their own efforts…if they want to be lazy, they will get a lazy person’s salary…if they work hard, they will be rewarded,” he said.

 

 

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