GPSU elections and the Patrick Yarde syndrome
The way was cleared by the courts for the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) to hold elections on Thursday. However, one wonders what service has the leadership of this embattled Union rendered to its membership over the years, while living off members’ contributions out of meagre salaries like fat cats.The Trades Union Congress (TUC), inclusive of the GPSU – which for the duration of the oppressive People’s National Congress (PNC) Administration was a toothless poodle without bark or bite – under successive People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administrations had become such a ferocious bulldog that it called protests and strikes to destabilise and destroy the labour constructs of this country at the whims and fancies of its master puppeteers – political opportunists who have historically proven that they have no qualms in using their supporters to destroy and decimate their own survival systems.The TUC and the GPSU calmly accepted the PNC’s destruction of the bauxite mining industry and its abominable treatment of public servants with oppressive, punitive conditions of work – (including them being forced to work for free on Hope Estate or in the cane fields on holidays and weekends); wages frozen at $2000 to boot and no relief in the various vital social service sectors, such as housing, health care, education, etcetera. But, the unions suddenly found a ferocious voice to destabilise all the people-friendly, empowering mechanisms that the previous Administration devised to give Guyanese citizens – across the board – opportunities for upward mobility.A cursory examination of the history of the GPSU would clearly show its primary historical role is that of a (strong) arm for a violence-prone political party.Every initiative the previous Administration implemented to better the lives of Guyanese was shot down by then opposition forces, including the GPSU. A prime example of its modus operandi was one instance when, purporting to represent the rights of the labour force, it agitated relentlessly against the PPP/C Government employing prisoners to work, as if Guyana’s prisoners are Martians with no right to a means of earning revenue to support themselves or families.The right to work and earn is a basic human right, and a government is mandated to take care of every citizen of the land over which it governs. In a Third World, developing country that has to guard its spending and strategise to stretch dollars while obtaining maximum service for public monies spent – if the people can benefit in a multiplicity of ways from an allocation, that benefits everyone, because all the stakeholders win.The previous Government was to be commended for the initiative whereby this resource served a dual purpose – giving prisoners a sense of purpose and self-worth while empowering them financially, as well as utilising their services in its drive to clean up the city, which had, under Hamilton Green’s stewardship, become a huge garbage dump and a microcosm of Guyana under the PNC Administration.The contract fittingly awarded to the Guyana Prison Service by the PPP/C Administration simultaneously addressed several essential national needs. The Government needed to get on with the job for which it was mandated by the citizens of this country, which was to govern for the betterment of country and citizens and leave the perennial naysayers, doomsayers and destroyers of this nation’s survival systems to do what they do best – prophesy gloom and doom on the nation, then act to fructify their portentous prognostications.But today the GPSU has reverted, under another PNC-led regime, to once again becoming a toothless poodle, only yapping at the heels of its masters, while the public servants remain in limbo as the fat cats drive in limos and spout unending rhetoric and make unrealisable and implausible promises to its membership – the Patrick Yarde syndrome.One awaits the outcome of the GPSU elections. Will Patrick Yarde retain his position, or will there be a change of leadership that will create a dynamic representational force, advocating and agitating for the rights of the workforce it represents, instead of using them as perennial protesters and battering rams to wrest power and riches for leaders of a political construct that always neglect their needs once they have served their purpose to install their leaders in high office?Time will tell, but it is to be hoped the membership of the GPSU has learnt its bitter lessons and will choose its representational leaders wisely and carefully.