Govt denies charges of discrimination, extra-judicial killings
-in letter to international trade union group
August 10, 2002
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Gopaul stated that any allegation that public servants have been discriminated against in recent years by the current government is without merit and is soundly refuted by an examination of the facts on public service salary increases granted over the years.
He said the positive effects of the steady increases in nominal public sector wages on the disposable incomes of the employees is further consolidated by the recent success in bringing inflation under control.
He pointed out that annual inflation has been reined in from consistent double-digit levels in the 1980s to consistent single-digit levels since 1992.
He added that in 2001 actual inflation was restricted to 2.6% by a menu of prudent monetary and fiscal policies.
“The combination of rapid and steady increases in nominal public sector wages and the success in restraining inflation and deterioration in the exchange rate have resulted in public servants being decidedly better off in 2002, relative to their status in the 1980s and early 1990s. These policies and increases implemented by government debunk the claim of discrimination against public servants.”
Gopaul stated that government has maintained dialogue with the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) over the years and expressed disappointment that the organisation has stopped attending meetings and embarked on a campaign with political activists, which it charged, was aimed at destabilising the government.
“The government record of support for the GTUC is seen not only by its involvement by the leaders of the movement in dialogue but by its regular substantial contribution on a yearly basis to the labour movement especially in the area of workers education and for the administration of the GTUC itself.”
He said the last such contribution of $2 million was made in April this year following discussions with the leaders of the GTUC and government.
He contended that government has done a lot to foster harmony between government and labour despite the fact that the labour movement itself is divided and compromised.
Gopaul stated that the labour movement had a constant input on the fixing of wages in many sectors such as shops, liquor premises and service station employees.
He recalled that government officials, including President Jagdeo, would meet with the leaders of the labour movement on a frequent basis to discuss issues of concern to them.
He noted that a bilateral sub-committee, comprising Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon and himself for government, and GTUC’s general secretary Lincoln Lewis and president Carvil Duncan for labour, has been meeting at least twice weekly with success on crafting a way forward to the benefit of the labour movement, government and the people of Guyana.
On allegations of extra-judicial killings, Gopaul disputed this stating that the Guyana Police Force has to cope with an escalating crime situation where criminals are armed with sophisticated weaponry, some of whom are hardened convicts deported from the United States.
“The government of Guyana would never support an abuse of power on the part of its security forces over the civilian population. We believe and uphold the rule of law and the freedom of the citizen as well as all the fundamental rights guaranteed to the individual, both under the Constitution and those governed under international covenants. We wish to reassure ORIT of our abiding faith and support for these internationally recognised tenets governing fundamental human and trade union rights,” he declared.
Gopaul noted that persons are being encouraged by political activists and television talk show hosts and this situation has led to the near disintegration of law and order in certain parts of Guyana.
He pointed out that eight police officers have been targeted and killed over the last few months in the country.
He argued that on the vast majority of occasions criminals and law-breakers have been apprehended with the minimum of force.
“Whenever killings occurred, these took place after the police were forced to defend themselves. In all cases where unnatural deaths occur, an inquest has to be conducted and this has to be ordered by an independent agency outside of the government,” Gopaul stated.
ORIT’s general secretary had said his organisation would be taking up the issues with international institutions for them to urgently come up with proposals for solutions.
Anderson said one of the major concerns was the breakdown of dialogue between government and the opposition and civic organisations like the GTUC.
He had stated that the image prevailed of a deterioration of the economic, political and social situation in the country and the increased violence by what he described as paramilitary forces acting with impunity has led to this and the government seemed unconcerned.
Anderson said he would be sensitising the Organisation of the American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund about the situation in Guyana.
The ORIT fact-finding mission was facilitated by the GTUC.