We won't be ignored in 2004
-GPSU's Yarde
Stabroek News
January 1, 2004

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The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) says it will not allow itself to be disregarded and disrespected as it continues its struggle for better working conditions in 2004.

"Let 2004 be the year when we demonstrate the strength that can come out of true solidarity," GPSU President Patrick Yarde said in his New Year's message.

"My New Year's wish to you cannot be for happiness... My wish is that you be strengthened in your resolve to bring an end to this disregard for the worth of your labour."

Yarde's message was in the wake of the recent 5% payout that was paid to public servants by the government after the breakdown of talks with the union over arbitration.

"There has been no change for the better..." said Yarde, who noted that one year ago there was a similar response to the union's demands for a reasonable living wage.

"Those who manage the affairs of this country have never appreciated the critical importance of the public servant to the lives of the people and to the development of the country", he argued.

He asked "how could a 5 percent increase meet the demands that face you for food, for rent, for electricity, for water, for transportation to work and to school, and for other basic necessities? The timing of that offer was as clever as it was wicked. They would have been aware of your professionalism and consequently of your unwillingness to disrupt business in this season. It was not easy, but we did exercise tremendous restraint".

Yarde charged that the "low level" of salaries of public servants and the ignoring of their pleas are part of an attempt to undermine confidence in the GPSU and to subvert the Public Service Commission (PSC). He cited the formation of the Public Service Senior Staff Association and the government's insistence on consulting it in relation to nominees to the PSC. "How else would you explain the creation of a phantom union and the administration's anxiety to seat the Union's representative on the PSC? ... Our survival is at risk and we must be on alert", Yarde declared.