Municipal workers finally receive December pay
By noon yesterday, most municipal workers were able to access their much-needed wages and salaries, which had eluded their grasp until now because of the municipality’s inability to garner sufficient funds last month.
Deputy Mayor Robert Williams, yesterday in an invited comment, said that the municipality was able to deposit the necessary funds into the respective banks utilised by the municipal workers, thus enabling it to access the money.
Checks with some staffers of the municipality revealed that they had started receiving their monies some time after noon yesterday.
According to the Deputy Mayor, the Council regrets deeply that workers were not paid their wages and salaries by the stipulated pay date last month, and even before Christmas. He added that the commitment of the workers towards helping the municipality to fulfil its mandate is very commendable.
Mr Williams added that the municipality had tried every possible means in its capacity to afford workers their monies.
Besides its failed attempt to have a bank overdraft turned into a loan, the municipality had also intensified its rates and taxes collection process, which brought in just about $25M.
Government, through the Minister of Local Government, had assured the management of the municipality that the rates and taxes for state buildings, to the tune of $53M, would have been paid.
And so, with the availability of the latter sum, which became available a few days ago, the municipality recognised its certain ability to pay the near 900 workers within its employ.
However, President of the Guyana Local Government Officers Union (GLGOU), Andrew Garnett, yesterday expressed some level of concern about the entire payment process.
He highlighted that while some banks would have been able to clear the monies deposited by the municipality, other banks may have taken a longer time, leaving some workers without their pay for a few days longer.
As President of the union, Garnett had, about a week ago, instructed GLGOU-represented workers to commence a sit-in form of industrial action in retaliation for the municipality’s inability to pay.
Among the departments of the municipality that were included in the action were the Abattoir, the Maternal and Child Health, Public Health and Food Hygiene, and the Environmental Health, as well as the Stone Depot and the Solid Waste.
And, according to Garnett yesterday, the workers will not halt their subtle industrial action until all of the workers are paid in full.
He alluded to a recent attempt by the municipality to pay only a section of the workers with funds it had garnered through rates and taxes collection.
That “disastrous move”, Garnett said, was aborted after a long meeting was held with top members of the municipality, where efforts were made to highlight how the payment of some workers could be interpreted as discriminatory.
In the meantime, the municipality is still faced with the challenge of completing retroactive payments to GLGOU-represented workers, in fulfilment of an agreement between the union and the municipality for a 10 per cent increase for 2008.
According to Garnett, the municipality has so far paid workers about 50 per cent of the retroactive payout.
And then there is the compulsory arbitration-recommended 14 per cent increase for Guyana Labour Union-represented workers for the period 2007 and 2008.
City Mayor Hamilton Green had, some time ago, disclosed that while it is just and fair that the municipality increases the pay package of the workers, funding may not be readily available for such an undertaking.