GUYANA | PPP recruiting foreign workers, outsourcing free tertiary education while UG students pay?

GUYANA | PPP recruiting foreign workers, outsourcing free tertiary education while UG students pay?

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, April 2, 2024 - The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) does not have a policy that puts Guyana and Guyanese first. 

Evidence abounds to prove the contention; the most recent being the recruiting of nurses from Bangladesh and additional outsourcing of free-funded tertiary education to do Coursera courses when the University of Guyana’s (UG) students continue to pay for their education.

These state-funded overseas programmes are not the bulwark on which our nation’s education development must stand. Our education must be tailored for our unique needs. 

Instead, we see the government sacrificing the development of the capacity of UG and continuing to burden students with fee paying when education should be free from nursery to university, as promised to every Guyanese and outlined in Article 27 of the Constitution of Guyana.

On the issue of recruiting overseas nurses, Guyana does not need to do this when the nation has the available human resource to train and retain these professionals if the Jagdeo/Ali regime allows it. 

The regime’s closure of the Charles Rosa Nursing School in Linden was not only myopic but a wicked political act to discriminate against a community which reflects solid political support for the opposition. 

The result of this is manifold: place a certain group of people on the breadline, stifle the professional ambition of some, deny the country needed skills and create a shortage to justify importation of a specific group of people.

We must question the extent to which the regime is going to recruit foreign nurses and why it has ignored recruiting from CARICOM, including  the Haitian nurses who are fleeing, extending the age of retirement in Guyana, or inviting overseas-based Guyanese nurses to return.  The belief is also held that should the Bangladeshi nurses complain about their working and living conditions the regime will move with haste to address these even as they continue to ignore our local nurses.

Also of concern is Government’s silence on whether the importation of these nurses is short term or has long term implications, the absence of knowing what systems will be put in place to ensure Guyanese are adequately trained and prepared to fill the necessary vacancies.

The implementation of a policy to recruit overseas nurses sees a simultaneous policy to force our nurses to leave by refusing to engage the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), who represent them, in collective bargaining to address their conditions of employment.

 In the world’s fastest growing economy not only is the healthcare system in shambles but the conditions of employment for these workers leave much to be desired.

The trade union community is convinced one of the intentions behind the importation of nurses is an act to place persons in the union’s bargaining unit to weaken the strength of the union and the demands of Guyanese workers, as a collective, to improve their conditions of work.

The Bangladeshi nurses will be paid within US$700-$1000 per month which is tax free plus overtime. These conditions are better than the Guyanese nurses whose income is taxable, and also contravenes the tax law. 

 In the desire to recruit these nurses the regime is trampling the law and ignoring public service principles.

The health sector falls within the bargaining unit between the GPSU, Ministry of Health and Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). 

The employer cannot arbitrarily circumscribe the bargaining unit by applying new conditions of employment outside of what exists. Further, the employer cannot recruit and give persons contracts that are in contravention of the agreement between the two parties.

The Bangladeshi nurses are also being advised by the government what measures they need to be put in place to ensure they become Guyanese citizens. As part of the Commonwealth, these persons will also be eligible to vote.

The Jagdeo/Ali regime is not only looking at devious ways to ensure their continuity in office but is creating two societies, and in this instance of the working environment, seeking to undermine and dis-empower local labour. 

The recruiting of foreign nurses has serious political and industrial relations implications. There is no doubt in my mind the PPP is unaware its action would be stoking conflict in the wider society and among the working class.

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