President Granger must not remain aloof from GTU negotiations

Dear Editor,

In my letter to the media dated August 13, 2018 and captioned in the Stabroek News as `The time is now for the GTU to act’, I mentioned the fact that President Granger’s Government can easily find G$1 billion annually to travel internationally but cannot find the same amount of money for the teachers.  Such funds can easily increase each teacher’s salary by some G$7,900 per month.  Now I am reading that the Granger Government did not enter these negotiations with the GTU for the teachers alone but for all public servants. Isn’t that against the spirit of Collective Bargaining? Any labour union leader will advise that collective bargaining is done between an employer and a union for the members of that union, not every worker because the process was designed to empower the trade unions. Am I to believe that the PNCR is up to its same old ways where today they plan to infiltrate and dis-empower these trade unions.

That is what the Minister of Education said in a Ministry of the Presidency press release and I shall quote “I would want to ensure that what we offer to teachers is what we can afford but also what we’re going to offer to other categories (of workers)…..”

This is a plain old game of political subterfuge and deception at conning the teachers out of bread by commingling their negotiations with the entire public service.  Such wicked political acts create the occasion and cause for a national teachers strike.  If nothing else the actions of the Granger Government are gross “eye pass” and disrespectful to the services of the teachers. After all they mould the minds of the nation’s most valuable asset – its future; its children which is very different from what other public servants do. It is a totally different deliverable and must be treated differently.

Luckily there are still opportunities to correct this injustice conceived and perpetuated by Mr. Granger’s Government; all he has to do is think constructively for all of Guyana rather than remain so focused on self-preservation. 

First off, Mr. Granger must familiarize himself with a budget created in his name, he must not remain so aloof from the process.  With the right knowledge, I am sure he will instruct areas for cutting some fat and make the entire system more effective and efficient.  One thing he can call for is an impact and outcome audit of the last three budgets to evaluate what the people have gotten from him taxing them, borrowing in their name and then spending some $900 billion. 

As an example, let us reflect on the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, which is not even a Ministry but a Department in the Ministry of the Presidency.  In 2017 it spent some $882 million but what did it achieve for the people? This Department delivered less work over three years than its predecessor did in even three months.  Isn’t it time to cut all the pageantry, sirens and public waste happening in places like the Prime Minister’s Secretariat and pay the hardworking teachers a living wage? 

Then there is the food bill for the National Parliament? Come on now, G$700,000 per sitting, what are these people eating, lobster fritters splashed with caviar and served with Chateau Margaux wine?  Then there is the Ministry of Public Telecommunications Guyana after three years is yet to benefit from the sort of advances made in the world in this sector even after spending some $6.5 billion in this sector under Minister Cathy Hughes since she took the job.  Again this Ministry under Mrs. Hughes is set to spend some $4.6 billion in 2018. Where is the progress?  Where are the deliverables?  

I can find at least 100 cases of opportunity for rationalization that will help the people but is there the political will to do better?  History would have taught us in 1967 the Office of the Auditor General could not find the proper vouchers for some 10% of the 1968 budget under the PNC.  Guess what is again happening under the PNCR in 2018?  The Office of Auditor General has asked for payment vouchers valued at billions of dollars in unaccounted expenditure on that parade ground at D’Urban Park but the PNCR boys are sand-dancing on the issue. But yet Clive Thomas and his SARA Unit are dead asleep on this issue. 

I call on all teachers to come out and support the strike again this injustice being meted out to them in 2018.  Free yourself from party politics and focus on your family first because clearly the PNCR and Mr. Granger do not care for you.

Yours faithfully,

Sasenarine Singh

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