The Public Service Union is being unfair to the new Government, encouraging its members to call in sick, engaging in daily protests, and contemplating strike action, at such a time as this.
To be fair, the Government, as soon as it got in, said it would give a hardship allowance to nurses and took its $150 million proposal to Parliament to be approved. This was a good start and a show of good faith. But the Union couldn’t wait for Parliament to approve the budget and started to engage in protest action, without initiating discussions and negotiations.
To give Jack his jacket, the Government has already begun to enact several pro-people, pro-worker measures rolling back almost 200 taxes, restoring water to pensioners, making it easier for pensioners to receive their pensions, giving out COVID cash grants, student grants, asking squatters to apply for house lots, etc. I do not recall the TUC or PSU praising the Government for such goodwill in honouring election promises.
Much has been accomplished in a short time. The Government has committed to pro-worker measures in its labour policy, social services, and it is working on reopening the sugar estates so these productive enterprises can produce wealth to finance raises and better benefits for nurses and all public service workers. The PSU, therefore, would be hard-pressed to explain why its strike actions at a time of great national health emergency in this COVID era, is not a political calculation to destabilise the new Government it does not support.
The records show that the PNC Government refused the PSU’s requests for hardship allowances but the PSU did not engage in any industrial action against the PNC. It waited for the PPP to come in and without initiating discussions and exhausting the grievance and collective bargaining process, is holding the country to ransom. To take such action with a COVID emergency is not only reckless, it is medical terrorism against the nation.
The PSU’s history is one where it has been aligned with the PNC and is willing to be the PNC’s lapdog over the years. It is a leading part of the labour faction that does not support the PPP. The PSU leadership should not use the nurses as pawns in its political games, and nurses should not be misled by those with a clearly political destabilisation agenda.
The Government must take whatever measures necessary to send a signal that Unions must follow the rules and put the national interest first. Shame on the PSU.
Dr Jerry Jailall