Sep 04, 2010 News
M&CC pays wages and salaries
Strike action proposed by the Guyana Labour Union (GLU) is officially off as the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown was yesterday able to fulfil a promise to pay its workers overdue wages and salaries.
Public Relations Officer, Royston King, confirmed that staffers were paid by early afternoon thus appeasing the concerns expressed by the union earlier this week. The customary pay date is by the 25th day of each month, an undertaking the Municipality has been challenged overtime to meet.
The constant delay, however, this time around invoked the wrath of the GLU, which in turn proposed strike action if the workers were not paid forthwith. The union represents almost 700 of the 900-odd workers employed by the Municipality while the Guyana Local Government Officers Union represents the officers. Full-blown strike action was set for last Wednesday but was quelled to some extent following a meeting with the Chief Labour Officer, during which time a decision was reached that the workers would have been paid by yesterday. According to King, it is customary that the Town Clerk would have informed the unions about the development, thus officially putting all intent of a strike to rest. General Secretary of the union, Carvil Duncan, however noted that although the decision to strike has been halted, there is no telling what will happen later this month.
“They have paid the workers now, but later on is another story, we don’t know if we will have to strike for them to get paid for this month,” Duncan speculated.
He related that while some workers would have received cheques yesterday, those that are paid through the bank may not be able to access their money until Monday. Nonetheless, he expressed satisfaction that the Municipality was able to fulfil its promise to pay.
According to Duncan, a series of meetings have been planned and are geared at helping to resolve the financial situation of the municipality in the hope that the workers will be paid on time for the remainder of the year.
“We are hoping that the relevant people will do what they have to do so we will not have to consider strike action again for the rest of this year…They just have to work with us, because we are willing to work with them,” Duncan asserted.
On Thursday, the GLU-represented workers had been instructed to engage a slow mode of operation. Duncan said that they were urged to attend work as usual but refrain from the normal pace of work. Their General Secretary had warned, “until payment is made we are not going to ask the workers to work as per norm…” It is his belief that the decision to not pay the workers was a deliberate act. He revealed his convictions that “the Mayor has been using workers as a pawn in his political struggle…This is behind this non-payment and I am convinced that it is deliberate.” At a meeting hosted by the Chief Labour Officer, held on Wednesday, which saw the attendance of officials from the Municipality and the Union, Duncan recounted that Mayor Green had described the proposed action by the union as nothing resembling an industrial dispute. In fact, the Mayor, at a press conference, had labelled the action as “not an ordinary one.”
But according to Duncan it was clear that the failure to not pay workers was deliberate as at the recent labour hosted meeting, the Mayor had indicated that workers “could not be paid earlier than next week Friday (yesterday)”.
“Where is the money coming from to pay workers now on the third (yesterday). The fact that they have found the money indicates that they had the money all along and didn’t need money from the government to make payment like the Mayor was suggesting.”
Mayor Green on Wednesday had asserted. “there was no dispute between the workers and the Municipality…a dispute in the sense that there is money to be paid and the council is unwilling to pay. The position, as we pointed out on many occasions, is that the Council is without the resources to pay workers and I feel very sad and sorry for the workers, particularly at a time when school is reopening and we have so far been unable to pay the workers.”
During the Mayor’s press conference he related that it was very strange that General Secretary of the GLU did not believe that the issue of those who owe taxes was relevant or that it was an issue of concern. According to the Chief Citizen, although the Government is in fact one of the largest property owners in Georgetown it seems unwilling to satisfy the financial obligation it has with the Municipality. This development, the Mayor is convinced, has set the tone for other tax payers who have also neglected to pay their taxes. “If the Government sets a bad example in a small society like ours it will not be surprising that others are delinquent and feel it is unimportant…”
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