The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) may see a challenge to its list of nominees for its upcoming elections, where incumbent Patrick Yarde and three others are slated to contest for the post of president.
Jermaine Hermanstyne, who has been at the forefront of recent protests calling for Yarde’s removal after successive terms as the head of the union since 1993, said that the list of nominees will be challenged because it does not include submissions from the Bureau of Statistics.
The Bureau had reportedly submitted two nomination lists to the Chief Elections Officer of the GPSU on March 16.
During a press conference called recently by Hermanstyne and other union members who are against Yarde’s presidency, it was related that members of the Bureau of Statistics branch were being treated as “associate members” because they challenged an increase in the union fees and refused to pay the difference until financial audits for the last five years were provided. The fee was raised from $1,200 to $1,500. There were questions as to the basis of the increase as well as why it had not been tabled and voted on at the biannual delegates meeting or at the union’s General Council meeting, rather than at the executive level.
According to Dvane St John, Chairman of the Bureau of Statistics branch of the GPSU, associate members are not allowed to vote at the elections and do not receive full representation from the union.
St John said that the branch, made up of 52 members, had never received any documentation stating that its members were now designated associate members; rather, this information was merely heard through the grapevine.
Additionally, Hermanstyne expressed concern at what he described as members of the union staff being “held at ransom,” as he said they were forced to pay union dues. He argued that an employer cannot also act as a representative body as he believes it to be a conflict of interest. He argued that in order for those staff members to run for a position on the GPSU council, they must first resign as members of staff.
In a circular of notification on Thursday, signed by the elections officer Herman De Souza, the GPSU published the list of nominees for the positions of President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Third Vice President, Deputy General Secretary, Principal Assistant Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Organising Secretary, Assistant Organising Secretary, Assistant Treasurer, Assistant Education Officer, Assistant Economic and Projects Officer and general members.
The nominees for President are Yarde, Sandrene Abrams, Unata De Freitas and Gregory Gaspar.
Mortimer Livan, who currently serves as Vice-President of the union, has not been nominated again for the position, although his name appears under the nomination for Organising Secretary.
De Freitas and Abrams are also nominated for the positions of First and Second-Vice President, with De Freitas also receiving nomination as a general member.