Government looking for excuse to stall talks
-GPSU's Yarde
Stabroek News
April 15, 2004

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The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) yesterday accused the government of looking for an excuse to compromise arbitration talks.

Head of the Public Service and Permanent Secretary PSM, Dr Nanda K Gopaul in a Government Information Agency (GINA) release on Tuesday said that the government had suspended talks with the union over what it said was its recent conduct.

The GPSU in response to the government move said it is prepared to await a response to correspondence sent to Chief Labour Officer, Mohamed Akeel last week on the actions of the Public Service Ministry (PSM).

GPSU President Patrick Yarde said yesterday that the union would give the labour department until Tuesday to respond to its letter before deciding on any further action.

Meanwhile, the union's Executive Council (EXCO) is expected to meet soon to discuss several issues including the current actions of the PSM, Yarde told Stabroek News yesterday.

According to Yarde, this forum would determine the likely response of the union, if any is merited, to the government actions.

"We were discussing the modalities, terms of reference and examining the possibility of naming the arbitrator when statements were made by the union, inflammatory statements on the national television and in public, calling on workers to join protest demonstrations," Gopaul was quoted as saying to GINA.

However, Yarde said yesterday that the government is "not doing any favours in respecting the Rule of Law, they have to."

According to Yarde, the government by its actions has shown that it is not in favour of following the rule of law as it relates to settlement of disputes.

"By subscribing to arbitration the government is not doing us a favour, they are lawfully bound to follow that procedure," the union leader said.

The GPSU's participation in the Rule of Law march was based on principle and its belief that the supremacy of the rule of law must prevail, Yarde said.

Gopaul, in his disclosures to GINA said that the union's action was seen as pressuring the administration and for that reason government believed that the talks between the two parties would be compromised.

Government as a consequence decided to allow a two-week period to elapse to monitor the union's conduct prior to examining the future of the process, the release further said.

The GPSU in a letter to Akeel over the weekend had complained about the unusual cancellation of the meeting scheduled for April 7, after consultations and agreements by all parties (Ministry of Labour, PSM and GPSU).

The parties began meeting on public sector wages and salaries on February 12 and have since convened seven meetings under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour.