By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – President of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) Patrick Yarde has expressed grave concern with what he described as the continuous hostile environment that workers are forced to work in, the disregard for workers right, the rule of law and the absence of due process.
In this regard, the GPSU President reiterated the call for the appointment/reconstitution of the apartheid tribunal the body had lobbied for in 2004, so that workers can seek redress, in a lesser time consuming and inexpensive manner.
Yarde made these comments at the opening ceremony of the GPSU’s 20th Biennial Delegates Conference at the National Cultural Centre on Wednesday September 25, which is being held under the theme: “relentlessly pursuing good governance, decent work and social economic justice.”
Yarde believes the theme is relevant and most fitting, taking into consideration the sacrifices and suffering of workers around the world, and commended workers for remaining committed to their jobs, while pointing to the reforms the body has made in order to confront its challenges.
Yarde also commended the Guyana Government for the systems of reproach it has built for workers. He believes this is a manifestation of the Government’s support for Trade Unions.
The GPSU Head has however noted his non support for the Public Service Commission (PSC) calling it a “political football.” He said the GPSU is currently investigating the sacking of five PSC members as it gears for its constitutional close in October.
Among grievances expressed by Yarde were the non-granting of lands to GPSU members it had applied for, making the comparison that land is being granted to foreigners instead.
Yarde also reiterated his call for tax reforms, proposing an 8 percent reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT) and tax exemptions for mortgage payments.
He also reminded of the GPSU’s 25 percent wage increase proposal it has made in the 2013 budget and the 15 percent interim increase while negotiations for the 25 percent were taking place, all of which are yet to be accomplished.
He believes there is a high level of insensitivity being displayed towards the hardships of workers.
“Why the treatment, why the apparent malice… why?” He noted that there appears to be an absence of willingness to pay public servants acceptable increase in salaries.
He made it clear that the GPSU stands firm in its demand while reaffirming the body’s commitment to the struggle of all workers. He charged the delegate to ensure over the next two days that they deliberate to devise strategies to overcome all challenges.
Meanwhile, Acting President Samuel Hinds, who delivered the feature address and declared the conference open, highlighted the historical and somewhat inherent contradictory and antagonist relationship between employers and employees.
In this regard, he explained that Government as an employer faces greater challenges than other employers. He told the gathering that notwithstanding the challenges workers face today, which he recommends be assessed historically, progress has been made over the years; a submission that was met with rejection from several delegates.
He committed to representing to concerns raised by the GPSU Head to Government, noting that some of the concerns are already being addressed by the administration.
On the topic of a reasonable living wage for all workers, Hinds said he supports fully.
“I support it 101%” he said, adding that “in-spit of difficulties we are all in a common venture to make a good life for all.”
He noted however that financial discipline is the ground on which growth and development must take place.