The Guyana Public Service Union’s (GPSU) President, Patrick Yarde, along with another GPSU executive have been members of the outgoing Public Service Commission (PSC). Patrick Yarde also served in the last few months of the life of the PSC, (which ended in August 2017) as its Chairman. There have been obvious and manifest conflicts of interest in the functions of GPSU executives and membership in the PSC – two conflicting positions. Is it any wonder that the union is silent and inactive in relation to its responsibility to negotiate in good faith to finality in accordance with its legally recognized status as the sole bargaining agent for public servants.
Public servants would like to know why there are no negotiations and bargaining by the GPSU for more realistic remuneration. The GPSU has been accepting the imposition of annual increases in wages and salaries over the years without successfully exercising fully its legal collective bargaining rights. Are the GPSU leaders muzzled by their positions in the PSC? Failure to bargain in good faith is an offence under the Trade Union Recognition Act. Members of the union should take the GPSU and the Public Service Department/Ministry to court for failure to bargain in good faith.
The APNU+AFC government on assumption of office announced the restoration of collective bargaining in the public service, which is recommended by the 2015 Commission of Inquiry into the public service. Within its first weeks in government in May 2015, it immediately established the standard for more realistic remuneration increases when it awarded a 50% increase in salaries for ministers, in addition to enhanced packages of perks, fringe benefits and allowances. The salary relativity between the ministers and the permanent secretaries was long a reality and must be maintained by a 50% increase to permanent secretaries and for public servants, The government gave the GPSU a good basis for negotiations for the public servants. That opportunity should not be lost: negotiations, conciliation, and arbitration are the agreed means to resolve these matters to finality. The GPSU would be negligent in its duties if it fails to negotiate to finality, and to maintain the salary relativity between ministers and public service staff.