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Public workers in Guyana say “Enough is enough!”

19 December 2013
The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) submitted proposals for salaries, wages and working conditions in March of this year. In accordance with accepted practice, the union sought to meet with the government of Guyana to commence negotiations. And yet again, the government responded by imposing a 5% increase, retroactive to January, as the Christmas season approached.

Committed to putting an end to this abuse of authority and disrespect for the collective bargaining process, trade union rights and international commitments, union members pledged to fight any further attempts by the government to take the law into its own hands. With news of the imposition, the union started a series of pickets outside various government ministries and departments to heighten awareness on the issue. The union also continues to demand respect for the collective bargaining process, seeking conciliation talks through the Ministry of Labour.

“This imposition at this time is callous and is a display of contempt for public workers, both with the amount being proposed and the manner in which the hand-out is being attempted”, explained Mortimer Livan, GPSU’s first vice president.

For over ten years (well before the start of the economic crisis), the government of Guyana has resorted to this tactic, timing the 5% imposition at the start of the Christmas season to quell workers’ concerns and action . This is in violation of ILO conventions on collective bargaining ratified by the government of Guyana and which the government of Guyana is obligated to observe. The imposition is also in violation of the laws of Guyana, especially the Agreement for the Avoidance and Settlement of Disputes that allows for a smooth negotiation process between the Government of Guyana and the Guyana Public Service Union.

President of the Guyana Local Government Officers’ Union (GLGOU) adds, “This continued  disrespect for the collective bargaining process is setting a dangerous trend. In addition, we are seeing the imposition of 5% being mirrored by the private sector and quasi-government organisations, regardless of their ability to pay more.”

The GPSU steps up its action with a series of protest marches starting on December 20. “We are prepared to stand up for the principles of democracy, good governance, respect for the rule of law. We will work to put an end to discrimination, racism and autocracy”, says Deborah Murphy, GPSU’s acting general secretary.

GPSU calls on PSI affiliates to send solidarity messages to gpsu@networksgy.com, with copies to i.thakurdin@yahoo.com

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