Govt’s “differentiated approach” to wagesGovernment’s proposal to pay public servants based on their performance has been placed under scrutiny, as political commentator Dr David Hinds said the deal might do more harm than good.Dr David HindsHe said Government instead of going that route, should pay every worker a living wage.Government has proposed to the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) that a “differentiated approach” (performance-based salary increase) replace the across-the-board percentage increase usually paid to public servants.“I think it is something worth thinking about. I think they are talking about paying the workers based on performance and I think there are some problems with that. I think all workers should be paid a living wage,” Hinds told Guyana Times.The Arizona University professor said that he was very much sceptical about the proposal, which the GPSU said it was going to consider.Government and the Public Service representative late last week entered into bilateral talks, and several proposals and considerations were made by both parties.The performance-based proposal had sprung from a previous pronouncement made by President David Granger, driving home the message that lazy public servants would receive a lazy person’s pay.But Hinds said this proposal was one that should be carefully considered by Government.“If you’re talking about performance, then that should be on top of workers being paid a living wage. I’m very sceptical about the talk of performance, because people come to the workplace with different challenges. You will have the woman who is a single parent, who has five children to deal with in the morning before she comes to work. She comes to the workplace sometimes with tremendous pressure on her head that could affect her performance on the job and if you’re talking about paying her based on performance and not taking into consideration the social situation, I think you are running into a situation,” he explained.He said while a salary increase based on performance was not in itself a bad thing, he still remained sceptical.“One has to be careful that that approach does not lead to a hierarchy at the workplace that could in the long run defeat the purpose. Further, one has to be careful that it is not being used to discriminate against workers who may be at odds with management or too vocal at the workplace.”He said attention should also be placed on the social circumstances of the individual workers, because workers came from different households and they brought to the workplace their different experiences.“There are kinds of social factors that could influence workers’ performances. Workers from stable households may start with an advantage. The system of evaluation, therefore, has to be fair, just and transparent. Perhaps a compromise could be reached where the bulk of the salary increases are given across the board and the remainder is based on performance,” Dr Hinds stated.He also said he was not negating the fact that there were workers who neglected their work, but that has to be addressed. “But I don’t think that we should lump all workers who do not perform.”Day one of talks between the GPSU and Government on public servants’ wages and salaries for 2016 culminated with the Union agreeing to look at the State’s proposal to replace the across-the-board increase.According to a joint statement issued last Wednesday, following discussions, the two parties entered into the agreement.“GPSU agrees to explore the Government’s proposal for the differentiated approach to replace the across-the-board percentage increase,” the release stated.The parties also agreed that the negotiations were conducted in the spirit and obligations of the Memorandum of Agreement between the GPSU and the Public Service Ministry now Department for the avoidance and settlement of disputes.The bargaining unit is to consist of persons employed under the Department of the Public Service (DPS) and Public Service Commission (PSC), including those on contract, the statement detailed. An agreement also was made for a committee to be initiated to make recommendations to the negotiating team on allowances for public servants as soon as possible.The negotiating team is scheduled to meet again today.Meanwhile, while talks were ongoing, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon sought to respond to complaints by the Union that Government omitted allowance negotiations from the discussions. He explained that the Administration preferred a sequential process when engaging in these discussions.Speaking at the post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday, the Minister said the letter from the Union detailing the concern was received after the conclusion of the Cabinet meeting.“We have indicated to the Union upon receipt of the letter which voiced their concerns and we have made known to them that we prefer a sequential process when engaging in these negotiations. We would not lump wages and salaries with allowances, our preference is to take it consecutively,” Harmon said.The Minister of State disclosed that the Government wrote the Union explaining that it had no intention of omitting allowances.“We did say that for over 20 years, the allowances hadn’t been touched and, therefore, we could not now, in our first year in Government, say that we are not going to touch allowances, so we did communicate to the Union that wages, salaries and allowances will be dealt with, but we prefer to deal with them one after the other.”The GPSU on Tuesday, in accepting an invitation from the Ministry of the Presidency to commence negations on public servants’ wages and salaries, noted that it wanted discussions on allowances to be included on the agenda.GPSU President Patrick Yarde had said that the invitation omitted negotiations on allowances, which the Union would not stand for.Minister Harmon stated that the Union’s comments were expected.“I must say that I am not surprised that the Union has started off that way, because usually that is how unions operate, but we know that the atmosphere in which these negotiations take place, it is a friendly atmosphere where there is no antagonism between the Public Service Union and the Government’s side and, therefore, both sides will negotiate and negotiate hard,” Harmon remarked.He noted that Government was optimistic about the negotiations.