Uproar over 7% pay hike: ‘Take off political hats’, President Ali urges workers’ unions

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President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has appealed to the local workers’ unions to “take off their political hats” and approach the government’s announcement of a seven per cent increase to public servants’ salaries with reality. He made the statement on Friday, during an address to the nation.

“I appeal to the unions to take of their political hats and put on the hat of reality, the hat of fairness, and in a comprehensive way, they too should applaud the government. I have spoken to many public servants who are fully onboard,” Dr. Ali said in this address.

His comments come on the heels of criticisms from bodies including the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) that have been demanding an increase higher than the across-the-board increase announced last week by the government. 

The President emphasised that the disapproval displayed by the unions is grounded in nothing more than gaining political points.

Against this backdrop, he articulated, “Today, I am seeing a lot of so-called trade union leaders, who are more political operatives, I would consider them political operatives. If you look at their attitude and behaviour and their level of activism now, compared to when the APNU+AFC was in government, you would see that they are driven by an agenda, and this country sometimes, we do not want to call a spade, a spade.

When you have persons driven by an agenda, they try to distort the facts, they try to distort the truth and they try to manipulate information… I say to all of those in the public service, and all of the workers in this country, do not be distracted.”

Between 2015 and 2020 during which the APNU+AFC governed Guyana, President Ali highlighted that there was a “broken relationship” between that government and public servants.

He pointed out that his government aims to deliver the truth and facts to Guyanese so that the population could determine which government has done more and is more committed to the holistic development of the public service.

Further, the President recalled too, that the former government committed to an annual 10 per cent increase for public servants. Not only did the APNU+AFC fail to deliver on its promise, but the party also increased the salaries of its ministers by 50 per cent, while giving public servants five per cent that year.

“If you look at the increase that the APNU+AFC would have given, the total value of that increase paid in 2015 was $917.3 million. In 2015, the total value of the increase was $917.3 million. When you take out the PAYE that the APNU+AFC government took back from the salary increase, it was approximately $222.1 million being taken back. So, the net gained for the workers was $696.2 million, which is far less than a five percent in a net sense,” the President explained

Going forward, Dr. Ali gave his unreserved pledge to continue to positively develop Guyana.   “Your President would ensure that all of you, all of us are part of the strengthening, deepening, widening of democracy, freedom, prosperity and the ability to live a life that is full here in Guyana.” 

Last week, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with the responsibility of Finance Dr Ashni Singh announced that the government has already put measures in place so that public servants could receive their increases in time for the Christmas season.

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