‘Meat for the boys, bone for the workers’ – Rohee on proposed 10% salary increase for public servants

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Despite being equally guilty of offering insignificant salary increases to public servants, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has expressed disappointment in the 10 per cent ‘final offer’ proposed by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee noted that the 10 per cent increase was a betrayal of the Public Service and was not reflective of the 20 per cent increases promised by the coalition members on the campaign trail.
He also reasoned that in comparison to the exorbitant 50 per cent increase Government awarded itself shortly after assumption to office, the 10 per cent increase was unacceptable.
Rohee also justified the previous Administration offering small increases, noting that there were other benefits available to the public service which compensated for the minor raises.
During a news conference on Monday, the PPP General Secretary said the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) would most likely accept the final offer of 10 per cent and this would be “tantamount to another betrayal of the workers’ interest”.
He demanded to know the total cost of the one to 10 per cent increase having regard to the public boast by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo who, at the 2016 May Day Rally, declared that Government had set aside $43.8 billion and $6.63 billion for increased benefits and allowances in the 2016 Budget, for public servants.
Additionally, Rohee believes that the entire salary increase negotiation between the Government and the GPSU was a sordid situation and he called on the latter to come clean.

PPP General Secretary, Clement Rohee
PPP General Secretary, Clement Rohee

“The GPSU must come clean and in the interest of transparency and accountability, explain to its members, the true state of affairs in respect to the outcome of the negotiations and how the “final offer” was arrived at,” he expressed.
Moreover, Rohee reminded that Nagamootoo had also promised in his 2016 May Day address to workers, incentives, scholarships, land, housing and recreation for public servants, who, he said, “must be treated as human beings”. Rohee noted that “observers have queried whether the one to ten per cent increase is adequate for a human being in the Public Service”.
When prompted, Rohee justified the smaller increases which the PPP administration offered during its tenure.
“You must recall (that) the increases offered by the PPP Administration (were) together with a whole host of other concessions that were granted: duty-free concessions for motor vehicles, land, house lots and things like that, easy loans, the Because We Care programme. In other words, there were a whole set of other concessions that were granted to workers in order to cushion whatever (they) would get,” he explained.
According to Rohee, the entire undertaking of wage and salary negotiations under the current Administration is “clearly another manifestation of meat for the boys, bones for the workers”.
The GPSU has agreed to consider the Government’s final offer of a 10 per cent increase for persons earning below $99,000 per month, with the rate incrementally decreasing to a one per cent increase for those earning in excess of $1 million.
The initial proposal of the GPSU was for a 40 per cent across-the-board increase for public servants but this was subsequently adjusted to 25 per cent. The Union had also demanded that allowances be included in the negotiations.
Government responded by proposing that persons earning less than $100,000 be paid a 5.5 per cent increase, while persons earning above $1 million would only get a one per cent increase. The proposed 5.5 per cent offer was later increased to six per cent by Government, but this too was rejected by the Union.
Then, Government reconsidered its position and the final offer was presented.

(Devina Samaroo)

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