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Govt, union to discuss conditions of health care workers in Guyana


Govt, union to discuss conditions of health care workers in Guyana
Guyana President, Irfaan Ali. (FP)

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Georgetown – The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) Wednesday agreed to suspend industrial unrest by nurses paving the way for negotiations with the new Irfaan Ali government over the next two weeks, according to well-placed sources.

GPSU Vice President Dawn Gardener and the government representative, Dr Jennifer Westford, signed an agreement after GPSU acting general secretary, Kempton Alexander, told reporters that the two-month old government had been given a two-week ultimatum to meet the demands of the healthcare professionals before they embark on full industrial action.

The healthcare workers are reportedly seeking a 50 per cent increase in salaries, risk allowances, pension, gratuities and other benefits. They have also indicated that they want the risk allowances to be granted to all healthcare workers and not just those on the frontlines

Earlier this week, GPSU President Patrick Yarde told a news conference that the Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony and the Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital, Retired Brigadier Lewis, had been warned of the intensification of industrial action,after threats of  “disciplinary action” had been made to the nurses.

We will mobilise for full strike action if we do not get a positive response for discussion,” he said, declining to state what he considers a “positive” response to be.

Yarde told reporters that the decision of the new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government to a provide a GUY$650 million (One Guyana dollar=US$0.004 cents) to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuco) before the 2020 budget was passed, as well as the budgetary allocation of GUY$134 million to repaint State House and GUY$95 million to replace government vehicles “contributed to the anger and emotions” of the health workers.

“These people see themselves not as public servants but public slaves,” Yarde said, referring to the GUY$150 million for risk allowance for frontline COVID-19 workers as “measly chicken feed”. (CMC)