Day one of talks between the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and Government on public servants’ wages and salaries for 2016 culminated with the Union agreeing to look at the State’s proposal to replace the ‘across-the-board’ increase.
According to a joint statement late Wednesday, following discussions, the two parties entered into the agreement.
“GPSU agrees to explore the Government’s proposal for the differentiated approach to replace the across-the-board percentage increase,” the release stated.
The parties also agreed that the negotiations were conducted in the spirit and obligations of’ the Memorandum of Agreement between the GPSU and the Public Service Ministry for the avoidance and settlement of disputes.
The bargaining unit is to consist of persons employed under the Department of the Public Service (DPS) and Public Service Commission (PSC) including those on contract, the statement detailed, while adding that an agreement was made for a committee to be initiated, to make recommendations to the negotiating team on allowances for public servants as soon as possible.
The negotiating team is scheduled to meet again on June 27.
On the other hand, while talks were ongoing, Minister of State Joseph Harmon sought to respond to complaints by the Union that Government omitted allowance negotiations from the discussions, that his Administration preferred a sequential process when engaging in these discussions.
Speaking at the post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday, the Minister said the letter from the Union was received after the conclusion of the Cabinet meeting; however, he noted that the Government after 20 years of holding these negotiations has to use a sequential process.
“We have indicated to the Union upon receipt of the letter which voiced their concerns and we have made known to them that we prefer a sequential process when engaging in these negotiations. We would not lump wages and salaries with allowances, our preference is to take it consecutively”.
The Minister of State disclosed that the Government wrote the Union explaining that they have no intention of omitting allowances.
“We did say that for over 20 years that allowances hadn’t been touched and therefore we could not now in our first year in Government say that we are not going to touch allowances, so we did communicate to the Union that wages, salaries and allowances will be dealt with but we prefer to deal with them one after the other”.
The GPSU on Tuesday in accepting an invitation from the Ministry of the Presidency to commence negations on public servants wages and salaries noted that they want discussions on allowances to be included on the agenda.
GPSU President Patrick Yarde had said that the invitation omitted negotiations on allowance, which the Union will not stand for.
Minister Harmon stated that the Union’s comments were however expected.
“I must say that I am not surprised that the Union has started off that way because usually that is how unions operate but we know that the atmosphere in which these negotiations take place, it is a friendly atmosphere where there is no antagonism between the Public Service Union and the Government side and therefore, both sides will negotiate and negotiate hard,” Harmon remarked.
He noted that Government was optimistic about the negotiations.