While the Guyana Trades Union Congress has welcomed the move by Government to give all public service workers earning less than $500,000 a month, a $50,000 tax free bonus, it is worried that the administration failed to consult with the unions representing the interests of public servants.
“The payment of this bonus, in the absence of an engagement and concurrence with the trade unions that represent public sector workers is another act of violating Article 147 of the Guyana Constitution and Trade Union Recognition Law Section 23 (1) and transgressing the rights of workers. Minister of State Joseph Harmon in responding to the Guyana Public Service Union’s outcries for disregarding collective bargaining in an earlier arbitrary salary pay-out had not only apologised for the contempt of the law but committed that such will not be repeated”, the union said.
The GTUC has indicated that consistent with industrial relations principle, the bonus is now part of the condition of employment for public servants.
“For while an employer can chose to put something in place, that employer has no authority under the law to remove it. As such come 2016 and onward workers shall be entitled to their year-end bonus unless the unions agree otherwise. There is an established precedent”, the union says.
The GTUC also threw some criticism at the Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo for welcoming the bonus, stating that although Jagdeo “broke all the labour laws in this country, “there is no doubt, given the labour militancy of his party, that he would have been advised that the process involved in arriving at the bonus was in violation of the tenets of collective bargaining.”
The Union wants the government to know that industrial relations is not about gut feeling but rather, it is guided by a body of principles, rules and laws.
“GTUC therefore calls on the government to all times be shrewd in its decision-making and moreso to consult in order to make decisions consistent with time-honoured principles, laws and rights. While this and many other acts may be well intentioned government has to be mindful that the process it engages in does not undermine good intentions and bring disrepute to its stewardship”, the release stated.