GAWU to Govt: Cut down on unnecessary spending and give public servants a bonus

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The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is calling on Government to “carefully re-consider and fully re-examine the possibility of a year-end bonus payment” to public servants for 2017.

This request comes on the heels of the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan announcing on Friday last that there will be no bonus pay-out to state workers due to limited fiscal space.

“I can tell you that it will not happen this year,” the Minister had said when asked about bonus for public servants. “The challenges are many and the resources are few.”

In a press statement, the Union on Wednesday sought to poke holes in the “limited fiscal space” argument put forward by Government while noting that monies were spent unnecessarily.

“The Government is arguing that there is no fiscal space to meet the payments. For the workers, this is indeed saddening and speaks to the priority they are accorded. While monies cannot be found to ease the burdens the workers face or to assist them to make the Christmas Season more joyful for their children, we, at the same time, see monies being found to meet other expenses which need not be incurred. In recent times, for instance, we have seen a massive publicity blitz, involving fanciful billboards and radio advertisements, to promote the 2018 National Budget,” the statement said.

The billboards erected in various strategic spots carry an approximate cost of $300,000

Minister Jordan, in his revelation to the media, explained that countrywide infrastructure projects are on-going, while arguing that because of these projects, money is being circulated back into the economy.

In the absence of a bonus, Jordan explained that public servants still had much to be proud of as he pointed to the ongoing projects such as on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) road and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion projects.

GAWU in its statement however, noted that “the Government has pointed to sums being utilized to fund infrastructural projects such as the East Coast Demerara road or the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. As far as we are aware, those projects are foreign-funded and, therefore, cannot be used as a pretext to deny the hardworking workers a deserved bonus payment. Furthermore, the expenditures that flow from the conduct of those projects serve to spur income and consumption which enhances our fiscal space.”

As such, the GAWU is maintaining its call for public servants to be granted their year-end bonuses.

“Given the added pressures and heavier burdens that the workers have faced and are facing, it is a sum that will certainly give them some breathing room and make their Christmas Season a bit brighter” GAWU added.

Last year, public servants had waited to hear if Government would announce a month tax-free bonus but were instead treated to a reduced amount.

Jordan had told reporters at the time that Government simply did not have the monies available to make the one-month tax-free payment to members of the public service.

Meanwhile, GAWU is also calling on Government and the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) to address the sugar workers pay rise concerns in addition to their bonus payments.

“Our Union also calls for the productive sugar workers who were denied pay rises in 2015 and 2016 as well as Annual Production Incentive (API) last year to be treated equally with their counterparts in the Government and to address their pay rise concerns and for them to be awarded a like bonus payment.

“At this time, we take the opportunity to call on the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) to address the Union’s wage/salary claim for this year which is before GuySuCo since September 05, 2017,” their statement said. (Ramona Luthi)

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