At a press conference yesterday, Opposition Leader, Joe Harmon, observed that public servants appear not to be finding favour with the government. “This budget does not cater for an increase of emoluments of public servants and it doesn’t matter what explanation Bharrat Jagdeo seeks to give, they have failed to address that issue like they did in 2020.” Harmon said.
The Opposition Leader said public servants were expecting an announcement of salary increases in the budget but the government has ignored the plight of many public servants who have been forced to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Public servants are upset.” Mr. Harmon said, before challenging the Government to make an announcement. “Come out and say what you are going to pay-8, 9, 10 12, 15 percent, come out and make an announcement.”
While some categories of public servants were given a one off $25,000 bonus in December, the 2020 budget also made no provision for public servants to receive increases in salaries last year.
The Opposition Leader said during the coalition’s tenure in office, public servants were guaranteed salary increases.
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo claims that the budget contains provisions for salary increases for public servants, but there was no such announcement during the presentation of the budget last Friday.
In the meantime, Minister of the Public Service Sonia Parag said “There is an increase. There will be an increase in 2021 for all public servants… The Vice President would have been on social media, I believe about two days ago, saying that $10 billion was allocated, which was previously known as the Rivision of Wages and Salaries now Employment Cost, and a huge portion of that would be going towards increasing [salary].”
She said there was no need for public servants to worry as provisions were made for an increase, but it would have contravened the collective bargaining agreement to announce a figure.
“Making an announcement for an increase in salary and a percentage … is contrary to collective bargaining. It’s not the norm. You take away the right of collective bargaining if you do that. So, you cannot be contradictory and want a percentage in there and you’re taking away the rights of collective bargaining under which you have an agreement to do,” she said.
Meanwhile, there is widespread concern by public servants over the tenure of Afro-Guyanese workers in the public sector, many of whom have been summarily dismissed by the Ali/Jagdeo administration without cause and without explanation.
The latest dismissal is well-known civil engineer, Geoffrey Vaughn who has been fired by the Ministry of Public Works. Vaughn says he was not given any reason for the termination of his contract by way of a letter from the Permanent Secretary, Vladim Persaud.
He was informed that “the ministry no longer wishes to continue your employment contract, thereby making your effective date of termination 12th March, 2021.” He received his letter of termination on February 12, giving him one month’s notice. His contract should have ended on April 30, 2022.
Up to the time of the termination of his contract, he was Coordinator/ Chief Works Officer. who worked with the Public Works Ministry for more than 15 years as a civil engineer, senior engineer , Project Manager , Chief Sea and River Defence Officer and Coordinator/ Chief Works Officer. He acted on several occasions as Permanent Secretary.
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