Loss of good faith between the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and its Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) branch, has led to the formation of a breakaway body, the Guyana Civil Servants and General Workers Union.
The creation of the new union body, according to its President Gregory Gaspar, was influenced by the events surrounding the last GPSU elections, which conjured much controversy, with rumours of rigging muddying the process.
Gaspar was previously Chairman of the GPSU’s GGMC branch, and also ran against long-time President of the GPSU, Patrick Yarde in the last election.
Gaspar informed that the GGMC has not paid over dues to GPSU since last August. Those deductions, he said, are “being held” and requests have been put in for the monies to be refunded.
“We instructed our management not to send over any dues because it’s our money and we would have sent all documentation that we have withdrawn from the union’s representation and that any deductions that were deducted, not be paid over…” he stated.
Speaking with the Sunday Stabroek, Gaspar related that the new union was registered in February this year, and since then, more than 200 applications, reportedly accounting for more than half of GGMC’s staff strength, have been received. He noted that while persons from other entities have expressed an interest in joining, the union is looking to put certain measures in place before extending its reach.
As of now, the union is functioning under a temporary executive, with Unata De Freitas, who had also been a nominee for the post of GPSU President last year, acting as Vice President.
“…we made a decision to come out of that last union…there’s not really any democracy because you cannot want to rob us just to represent us. You can’t want to impose yourself, rig the elections, so that you can continue to collect our dues,” Gaspar stated.
He further related that over the past few years, the membership of the GPSU has declined substantially and there was “no concerted effort” placed by the executive to enquire into why persons were leaving.
Gaspar said that the formation of the new union is an attempt to “bring new minds and thinking into the public service again”.
In April last year, Gaspar had moved to the High Court to have the Executive Council of the GPSU suspended until financial records could be presented.
The action, filed by attorney Nigel Hughes, asked the court to suspend and/or remove the council until the Treasurer’s reports and/or the Auditor General’s reports for 2004 to 2017 were prepared and tabled at the union’s Biennial Delegates’ Conference.
The injunction was discharged by Justice Nareshwar Harnanan, after the union said it presented evidence that included income and expenditure statements up to December 31, 2016, and the elections were held a few days later.
During the period following, in the days over which the votes were counted, concerns were raised by Gaspar and his team about the integrity of the election process, including the storage, transport and counting of the ballots.