Oct 13, 2015 News
The APNU/AFC government, fresh in the wake of nationwide criticisms regarding the recent salary hike for government officials, has now come under fire from officials of the Linden Community Development Council (CDC).
Complaints were made by members of the CDC with regard to the members’ wages and the proposed number of workers for the reintroduced programme under the name, Community Infrastructure Improvement Programme.
Members of the CDC stated that the current government is acting no better than its predecessors whom they have never wasted time in criticizing. This condemnation stems from the view that the newly implemented programme has failed to make reasonable offers for workers.
Last Thursday, a meeting with the newly formed CDC Heads and Chairman of the Interim Management Committee, Orin Gordon, was held in the Linden Town Council boardroom, Mackenzie, Linden. Gordon called the meeting to update the CDC councillors on the offer made by Emil McGarrell, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communities, with regard to the programme.
According to one source, McGarrell advised the Town Council that his Ministry had only budgeted for 150 persons to be employed under the program for the remainder of the year with the same $25,000 payment, as it is a “short budget.”
Under the previous administration’s DNI program, approximately 400 workers were hired and paid $25,000 per month, while the program initiated under this administration will see that number being slashed by 250 with the same $25,000 per month. However, it was said that more workers are scheduled to be hired for the year 2016.
The proposal made for the reintroduction of the programme was rejected by CDC heads along with several workers present at the meeting. They saw the programme as a condensed version of the previous one with a “misleading” new name.
The general sentiment coming from workers was that the current administration seems to have become too comfortable in a relatively short period of time, and several persons opined that despite the name of the programme being changed, it remained the same or got worse in several areas.
“Like all they good for is changing names for things and keeping it the same,” one aggrieved worker stated.
CDC members stated that if the government is really interested in the betterment of its people, they would take advantage of the provisions in place to garner money from the supplementary fund mechanism available to the executive.
They further intimated that the least they will accept is 350 workers with payment of $35,000 per month for workers and $40,000 per month for foremen. CDC heads at the meeting explained that the government needs to come with another proposal.
The Linden Municipality has been given responsibility for the programme. Gordon said that it is like a thinly veiled curse. “It’s like they give us a basket to fetch water,” he told Kaieteur News.
He said that when he contacted the Permanent Secretary in connection with the issues and pointed out that the council will be faced with “sledges” from the people, the Permanent Secretary jocularly responded, “So, you want we get sledge then?”
Gordon also complained of what he described as the unfair practice of having a new Council put in place with no equipment or structure to help them. With local government elections pending, residents made clear their plans of not supporting the current administration as they have not been performing in the interest of the people.
CDC officials are especially peeved by the recent salary increases by as much as 50% for government officials.
“Workers are upset that they are being treated in this manner. They have been feeling deceived. When the recent pay increases came to light it incensed workers because it appears as if the new government does not care about the people. It is more interested in (the Ministers) than the people and country as a whole.
We vote for betterment, for change and we will not accept less than what the previous government gave us. What they basically telling us is that we not in their budget so our people can’t get raises. But I never hear of the 50% increase in the budget and yet they got it?” said Secretary for Linden CDC, Micah Williams.
Residents who normally benefit from the programme are upset as cost of living was said to have gone up in Linden. Government recently raised the minimum wage to $50,000, while the workers would still only be receiving the same pittance handed out to them under the previous administration.
It was explained that it is not a case of the workers being greedy for more pay. They are open to working more hours per day if their pay is raised. One of the criteria to qualify for the program is that one cannot be employed elsewhere.
“We not getting money from anywhere else, cause if we getting money from somewhere else, we can’t work with them.”
The initiative which began under the People’s Progressive Party Civic PPP/C, under the name, “Community Enhancement Project,” also known as (D’nI) was suddenly stopped last year without explanation thus causing hundreds employed to seek other means of survival.
Shortly after, the “Clean-up my country Guyana” programme which was considered a political gimmick by many, was implemented. Linden once again never benefited from any of the monies allocated. The focus seemed to be on the beautification of Georgetown.
This issue came shortly after President David Granger’s visit to the mining community where he said he would be targeting the problem of unemployment in Linden. So far, however, the matter has been raised with several Ministers to move the issue forward but no results have been seen from these conversations. No direct discourse has been had with Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, regarding the matter despite several requests for an audience with the Minister.
A consultation was recently held by the Ministry and it was thought that this meeting was for the Linden Municipality as they had made several requests for meetings with the Minister. However, upon arrival they observed that the meeting was for all the Municipalities and no opportunity was available for specific issues to be raised regarding the different Municipalities. The Council is said to really want to see something happen but will not be insulted by the new government.
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