The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has lost a significant sum of money, two Sony flat-screen televisions and several documents following a series of robberies.
According to union president Patrick Yarde the series of break-ins are an attempt to disrupt the operations of the organization.
“Clearly there is a conspiracy to undermine the relationship in the union, the membership harmony and its effectiveness,” Yarde told a press conference at the union’s headquarters yesterday
Though he would not indicate the specific sum taken beyond stating that it was less than one million dollars, the trade unionist noted that the monies were withdrawn on Friday, July 13 and discovered missing on Monday, July 16 just before an Executive Council meeting.
A visibly distressed Yarde told reporters that “the police report has the amount and I would not go into saying anything more unless we are advised by the police or our attorneys.”
The sum had been earmarked to reimburse the travel expenses of council members travelling to Georgetown from all across the country.
This break-in appeared to be the first in a series as Yarde further noted that “this morning [Monday] we discovered a series of break and entries in the building… the TV downstairs, a TV from my office and documents are gone and there was also an attempt to get into the safe in the union.”
Staff members are currently unable to open the inner door of the safe where an attempt was made to breach the lock.
Also missing is the security guard who was on duty from 7 pm on Sunday to 7 am on Monday. According to Yarde the security guard who works the day shift drew the staff’s attention to the missing television in the recreation area on the lower flat of the union. He indicated that on leaving his post at 7pm on Sunday the television was in its normal position but on showing up for work at 7 am it was missing as was his colleague.
Though he would not indicate if he believed the attacks were an inside job, the union president maintained that these are targeted activities designed to disrupt the work of the union.
“Undoubtedly it is targeted in our opinion. Clearly the regularity of it and the areas that they are penetrating. To get to my office you have to go through three doors and it is amazing how precise the things people are going for,” he said in response to questions on the matter.
Meanwhile, in an impassioned presentation the union accused the APNU+AFC government of being “inattentive”, charging that the present public service is ill equipped to effectively fulfill its obligations since government has failed to “remedy deep-seated issues that have to do critically with the welfare of workers” and failed “to keep promises made prior to its assumption to office that have to do with deep-seated issues.”
Yarde stated that the GPSU has been too patient with the APNU+AFC administration and has therefore received an “ultimatum” from its membership.
In the face of this ultimatum he has committed to utilizing “new strategies” which he would not identify.
He stressed that a comprehensive assessment of what has been “one-sided encounters in which the administration appears to have been deaf to the appeals of public servants” will inform the next step for the GPSU.
Yarde has over the last three years repeatedly criticized the government for not respecting the collective bargaining process and engaging in negotiations for improved wages, salaries and allowances, an action which he continued yesterday.
“Is it that we are idiots or is that that there is no one on the other side who can recognize that this thing is out of sequence and should be corrected,” he questioned adding that public servants are being made scapegoats for situations resulting from government complacency.
He however declined to identify any instances where this has occurred.