The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) on Friday offered its support for the 10% to 50% salary increase for Government Ministers and Members of Parliaments, but the governing trade union body expressed concern about the process that was in place for the increase.
Speaking to members of the media, GTUC General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis, said there could be no row over the increases, in a wage led economy, but explained it was not properly packaged and sold to citizens.
He also said he is not in full support of the government’s argument that the increases would deter corruption, reasoning that there could not be any “one size fits all” approach to tackling such an issue.
Mr. Lewis slammed the government for not providing any proper justification to the Guyanese people for the increase, and called out State Minister Joe Harmon over his “no apology” statement on the issue.
The GTUC General Secretary said he believes that all public servants should be paid appropriately but added that politicians must understand their role is service to the people.
“The most appropriate thing would have been for the government to issue a statement and justify the increase rather than secretly gazette it and then say you have no apology… you can’t be insensitive,” he added.
Lewis said there is a clear difference between the private and public sectors.
“In public life, it is not about the money but what you can do for people.”
The veteran trade unionist further stated that the opposition PPP must also state whether it is prepared to accept the increases that will also be afforded to its Members of Parliament.
Other unions, including the Teachers Union and the Agricultural and General Workers Union have denounced the increases.
Minister Harmon has since said that the increases are deserving and justifiable.
According to documents published in the Official Gazette of September 25, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo will be paid $20,580,000 per annum.
The Prime Minister’s new salary represents a 10% increase.
The other Vice Presidents will receive $11,135,064 per annum while senior government Ministers are slated for a $10M annual salary.
The new salary for senior government ministers represents a 50% increase.
The Leader of the Opposition will now be paid a 50% increase and his salary has been bumped up to just over $10 Million a year.
Other parliamentarians, inclusive of those in the opposition benches, will be paid $2, 402,532 each year and that represents a 19% increase, while the Speaker of the National Assembly will be paid $10M annually.
He gets a 50% increase.
Increases were also given to the Chief Whips, Parliamentary Secretaries and the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.