Fifty years after Independence, coming off the big Jubilee Bash, the Public Service Union is locked in talks for what they hope will be “salary increases” from the PNC-led APNU/AFC coalition government. Some of their older heads must be sucking their teeth at the irony of history. Fifty three years ago, it was THEIR strike that gave the British and Americans the excuse to intervene to throw out the PPP and install the PNC with Burnham at its helm into power.
The honeymoon didn’t last too long and by the 1970, after Burnham declared what was now a “coop republic in transition to socialism”, large swathes of the upper echelons of the public service became “public enemy”! They were, of course, a bit leery about being addressed as “comrades” by their juniors. Burnham gleefully changed their name from “Civil Service” to “Public Service” and shipped them off to the Hope Coconut Estate where he introduced them to the salutary moral improvement induced by manual labour. Burnham literally “overseered” them from a “high horse”. His jodhpurs were his idiosyncratic touch!!
Anyhow, by the time the PPP took over in 1992, the Public Service was a shadow of its former self – not only through losing its status but also shrunken in size by Desmond Hoyte on the directive of the IMF. The PPP tried to score some brownie points with the Public Servants by halting the “retrenchments” but to no avail. When it came to political loyalty, ethnicity continued to rule the roost.
And so even though the PPP said “please, pretty please – the cupboards are bare and the IMF’s calling the shots”, when it came time for wage negotiations, the Public Servants evidently’d recovered their “spunks”. They came out into the streets in 1999, browbeated the PPP/C to arbitration and received an astounding 31.6%!! Well, maybe the Public Servants’ve learnt they can’t risk being taken for granted by another PNC-led coalition?
After saying before the elections Public Servants will get a “substantial” salary increase, and getting zilch last year, they’ve started off by demanding a 40% increase this year. But PNC leader and now APNU/AFC President David Granger has now made that demand seem quite quixotic. He insisted “lazy public servants” will get lazy increases. So will the GPSU now come out into the streets and show some of their old “spunks”?
While your Eyewitness has some doubts about leopards losing their spots and all of that, he does have some hope. Living conditions are getting more dread daily.
And the clincher might be the reminder that the government gave its ministers a whopping 50% increase last year!
…of foreign working girls
If it’s summer then it must be time for another sweep of “working girls”. Last year it was the recipient of the US “International Hero” award for fighting TIP – Simona Broomes – who rode into the Wild West town-to-be of Bartica and hauled 15 or so foreign girls – who all insisted they were all “working girls” – to Georgetown. There was supposed to be an investigation to verify if they were in fact “trafficked” but we never heard anything… Just that four of them didn’t have their passports stamped. No wonder the US official report rapped Guyana for not vigorously prosecuting.
So this year, 11 “foreign strippers” were taken into custody: but this time – all from a club in Georgetown. Once again, however, all that was noted was some of the girls didn’t have “papers”. So what’re we doing? Going after Trafficking In Persons or Policing morals?
Are we saying women can’t do what they want with their bodies?