GTC/GT&T pensioners picket OP over unpaid retirement fees
Supported by walking sticks, umbrellas and by each other, the group of elderly former Guyana Telecommunications Corporation (GTC) and Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) workers, mounted first phase protest action outside Office of the President yesterday. They were seeking to bring attention to the dilemma of their unpaid pensions.
The seniors braved the sun to express their discontent with the manner in which the current administration is treating their due payments. The pensioners are owed millions of dollars in unpaid retirement fees over a 20-year period and have argued that the current government is making no meaningful attempt to address the issue.
Former GT&T maintenance manager, Lennox Skeete, told Kaieteur News that the pensioners are further advancing their cause, and are seeking redress to the present situation. Skeete, who dedicated 45-years of his working life to the telecommunications industry, said that hopes are that the activity will be seen by the executive and the president who would “through compassion, give a decision in our favour.”
Skeete said that while the pensioners would not have chosen to protest, they were pushed in this direction because of the lack of acknowledgement of their plight. “This is the only option we have now; to picket, we have been pushed, not that we wanted a confrontation, but this is the way we have to go.” Skeete added that it (protest) will be an ongoing process, “until someone says something to us.”
It was noted further that on average, more than 30 years of service have been given to the telecoms industry. “Some of us have a maximum of 47 years, receiving a measly pension of $18,000 per month.” Skeete said in many ways, the non- payment of his pension has stymied him, “especially my planned activities for my retirement, and as such I am stuck here,” he explained.
“My pension can’t even afford me buying gasoline for my car per month. “I was maintenance manager, dedicated 42 years of service and retired without my pensions when constitutionally, that is due.”
Former GT&T personnel manager Clifford Blackett said that yesterday’s event will go down in history. The pensioner said, “Let it be a lesson to the young workers of Guyana that they take this as a living example that when they become of age, they do not have to stand in a picket line to fight for what is constitutionally theirs.” He said it speaks a lot about the concern for the nation’s workers.
President of the Guyana Postal and Telecommunications Workers Union (GPTWU) Harold Shepherd said that the union plans to picket NICIL and the Finance Ministry for their unpaid pension. “It does not matter if it is next week; we will be back out to protest this injustice.”
To date, there has been no feedback from the relevant authorities. The pensioners are also peeved over the manner in which responsibility is being shifted between those responsible for addressing the unpaid pension. They said also that the matter is with Leader of the Opposition David Granger and he has promised to take it to parliament.
The protesters flashed placards demanding their unpaid pension. ‘How many more of us GTC pensioners have to die before we receive our pension-pay us now’; stop fooling and starving us GTC pensioners –pay us now!’
From cleaners to managers is receiving $18,000 monthly when, “a technician should have been receiving a monthly pension of at least $50,000, while a former manager should have been the recipient of way over $100,000 per month.”
The pensioners said their unpaid pension is an issue from the early 90’s and charged that the matter is showing more than ever a case of discriminated. Over two dozen pensions have died without ever receiving their due pension.