OPPOSITION LEADER and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Chairman Aubrey Norton has admitted during his weekly press conference on Tuesday that his party made mistakes while it was in government as it relates to salary increases for public servants.
During their time in government the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), which governed in coalition with the Alliance For Change (AFC), had amassed a dismal record of relations with trade unions, including the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), and Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU).
“We’re saying it’s a mistake that has been made,” Norton said on how salary increases for public servants were handled.
Norton believes that Guyanese must forgive his party. “The Guyanese public must believe us because we are acknowledging a change in the situation. I don’t see it as hypocrisy, I see it as acknowledging an error and moving on,” Norton said.
In 2017 the GPSU led by union President Patrick Yarde, had come out saying that it felt “betrayed” by the then APNU+AFC government’s disregard for the collective bargaining process.
Again in 2018 the union had called out the coalition government as being “disrespectful.”
The APNU+AFC, during its time in office, also often found itself running afoul in negotiations with the GTU. In 2018, teachers went on a mass strike action after feeling disrespected by the then government.
The then Minister with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott was on record referring to the teachers as “uncaring” and “selfish,” despite his position as mediator between the teachers’ union and the Ministry of Education. Though he later apologized the damage had already been done.