GPSU decries stalling of negotiations on allowances

wants to continue 2016 wages and salaries talks before starting 2017 negotiations

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has decried Government’s stalling of negotiations on allowances for public servants.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Vice President of the GPSU, Mortimer

GPSU Vice President
Mortimer Livan

Livan, lamented that Government seems to be interested in only negotiating wages’ and salaries’ increases, forgetting that allowances have not been reviewed since the 1990s.

“The Government was interested in only wages’ and salaries’ negotiations, but we are saying (the increase of) allowances is a very burning issue. In fact, the last set of allowance increases were way back in 1996,” Livan pointed out.

He said travel allowance was last increased in 1995 when the cost of gasoline was about $200 per gallon, and now that the cost of gasoline is over $800 per gallon, public servants are still receiving, in this regard, the same amount as allowance that they were getting over two decades ago.

“So it was necessary to bring in allowances as part of these negotiations,” he explained.

Livan further noted that as part of a memorandum of agreement with Government in 2016, it was decided that a committee be established to make recommendations to the negotiating teams on the increase of allowances for public servants.

“With respect to that committee, the Government put up some terms of reference; we examined (them) and agreed with (them), and both sides were to name three persons. We named our three persons and we submitted the names to the Ministry. The Government’s team — this was way back in July (2016) — and onto now we cannot meet to decide where we going with the allowances,” the frustrated Vice President outlined.

The three nominees that were named to represent the Guyana Public Service Union on the allowances committee are Trevor Daily, Kempton Alexander and Morris Butters.

Meanwhile, the GPSU is refusing to sit down with the Government’s negotiating team unless the agenda is to continue talks on the 2016 wages’ and salaries’ increases before negotiating for 2017.

This position is in light of the Department of Public Service inviting the union, in a July 20th correspondence, to commence negotiations for the year 2017.

However, during Wednesday’s press conference, Livan pointed out that while the GPSU is enthusiastic about moving ahead with wages and salaries talks with Government, it would like for the discussions that were incomplete last year to be completed before new negotiations are entered into.

“Given that the union had submitted proposals for 2016, 2017 and 2018, and has agreed to the terms of reference of the allowance committee and submitted names of nominees, it is of paramount importance that 2016 must be completed before moving onto 2017. The outcome of 2016 will affect 2017.

“The union views this piece of correspondence as an affront to the principles of good governance, the memorandum of agreement for the avoidance and settlement of disputes, and the binding agreement entered into by both parties at the beginning of negotiations,” Livan explained.

He said this move to go ahead with 2017 negotiations is a slap in the face of a commitment given by President David Granger, who made it pellucid that no deadlock existed on negotiations for last year.

“His Excellency the President made it clear, both to the GPSU and in the press, that negotiations for 2016 are incomplete… The President said it’s not a deadlock, it should continue; and it’s incomplete. That’s the Head of State saying that, so we’re taking his word that it’s incomplete and we need to move on,” the GPSU representative outlined. To this end, he revealed that the GPSU has since written to the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Public Service, expressing its concern. The letter has also been copied to the Head of State, seeking his redress to ensure that the negotiations proceed within the realm of the commitments he has given.