Government, public service union head for showdown on pay hike issue
Stabroek News
January 14, 2004

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The government and the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) seem to be heading for a showdown over public sector wages as both sides propose different strategies for advancing the issue.

Head of the Public Service and Permanent Secretary in the Public Service Ministry (PSM), Dr Nanda K Gopaul, was yesterday adamant that negotiations are the way to go in dealing with public sector wages and salaries this year a view with which the GPSU differs.

"Not because there was no agreement on proposals last year there is a ground for arbitration," Gopaul said. He said his ministry intends to engage the GPSU on wages for 2004 to 2006.

GPSU President Patrick Yarde, in a statement on the matter recently, had said that the union had already gone through the process of negotiating with government and had reached deadlock at both the bilateral and conciliation stages.

Yarde saw no good reason to continue negotiating on proposals that had already engaged the parties but rather that the matter should be settled through arbitration.

Chief Labour Officer Mohamed Akeel, in responding to this newspaper's enquiry on the issue, had indicated that there was some merit to Yarde's position.

However, Gopaul insisted that those negotiations had lapsed and there is need for the sides to discuss the issues afresh.

He said it would not be the first time that this was happening, as there is precedent for these procedures to be adopted.

Gopaul further said that PSM is likely to write to the GPSU indicating its desire to begin talks on increases for the next three years.