Almost immediately upon assuming office in 2015, the coalition government of Guyana increased Cabinet ministers’ salaries by 50% and MPs’ salaries. They did so with full knowledge that its core constituents: public servants, teachers, police officers and the military, have not had a meaningful increase in salaries and benefits in decades. They were in a demoralized state having been deliberately starved and impoverished by the PPP.
The coalition government was so careless and callous that it did not even bother to give this constituency a 1% increase along with its ministerial and parliamentary increase, to obscure the elitists’ stench of that reckless, premature act.
Last December, this said constituency did not receive a penny of the customary end of year bonus or “back pay” to help parents purchase Christmas gifts for their children, or to help families make ends meet so that they could have had a happy holiday season.
Now teachers have to fight and strike for an increase in wages. Other constituents are still scrambling to make ends meet, while politicians roll around in high-end vehicles and live an elitist lifestyle, funded by the said poor constituents who are a majority of the taxpayers.
Furthermore, the government is so foolishly intractable that it cannot make a meagre compromise to add the word “labour” to the Ministry of Social Protection, as an acquiescence to the labour movement’s request for the ministry’s name to at least be adjusted to “Ministry of Social Protection & Labour,” to give emphasis and importance to its entire lawful mandate, which includes labour relations.
Worse, the reassignment of Minister Keith Scott to the labour portfolio of said ministry has made the government’s laissez faire, if not cavalier, approach to labour more pronounced.
The government is not at a good place with public sector employees. It therefore needs to change course urgently before it further estranges some of its key supporters whose votes are absolutely needed to win the 2020 general elections.