Arbitration agreed in public service wage talks
Guyana Chronicle
March 27, 2004

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THE Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the government have agreed to arbitration to resolve failed wage, salary and allowance negotiations between the two sides.

This was announced by the GPSU yesterday at a press conference at its Regent and New Garden Streets headquarters.

Senior Research Officer of the GPSU, Ms. Miriam Gadraj said agreement has been reached for the structure of the arbitration panel as well, which, when appointed, would adjudicate on wages, salaries and allowances from 2004 to 2006.

She added that discussions are progressing on the identification of members of the panel, and the terms of reference for the panel, which would include the agencies to benefit from any award, apart from the traditional Public Service.

President of the GPSU, Patrick Yarde noted that the seven meetings held between the two sides between February and March this year were "conducted in an atmosphere of cordiality devoid of any rancour, and the union trusts that its continuing relationship with the representatives of the government will, like the seven meetings, be without unnecessary conflict.

Arbitration, the GPSU contends, "is the mechanism to make this possible."

However, the GPSU has expressed deep concerns about the breakdown of the rule of law both in the streets and in "stately places," describing the violation of the constitution with respect to the latter as being "executive lawlessness."

Education Officer of the GPSU, Ms. Vera Norton said the union in its 80 odd years of existence has always demonstrated respect for the rule of law, which requires a fair legal framework that is enforced impartially.

"We have noted numerous instances of marked usurpation of the statutory powers of public officers by the political executive. Respected Senior Counsel Rex Mc Kay cited the exercise of statutory powers of the Controller of Customs by the Ministry of Finance, the existence of CAU answerable to the Secretary of the Cabinet, and Roger Luncheon usurping the functions of the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecution by announcing that the Cabinet had decided to have Gregory Smith charged for the murder of Walter Rodney," Norton charged.

She added: "It is therefore urgent that the PPP regime reassesses its priorities in the prevailing situation with a view to stamping out all acts of lawless behaviour and, instead, shows respect for the rule of law and good governance."

Yarde said the union supported the protest march last Saturday to encourage the rule of law in Guyana.

He also accused the government of attempting to undermine the GPSU by the formation of the Public Service Senior Staff Association. (Chamanlall Naipaul)