Members of the Guyana Public Service Cooperative Credit Union, (GPSCCU) have moved to protest the management committee of the entity over the non-payment of dividends for the past five years.
During a picketing exercise held in front the Credit Union Office, Hadfield Street yesterday, members of the Union also registered their concerns over the absence of an Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the same period.
According to those on the picket line, the absence of an AGM has facilitated the non–payment of dividends to more than 6,000 members of GPSCCU.
GPSCCU member, Karen Van Sluytman–Corbin explained that the dividends are paid after the AGM is held. The AGM, she said, is necessary for those in the Credit Union to be made privy to fiscal information, yearly profits and entitlements.
“We are aggrieved that over the past five years, members have not received dividends, which is in conflict with the rules of the Credit Union as well as the Cooperative Act, which states there should be a General Meeting annually.”
The picketers said that at present the GPSCCU is managed by a board of 12 Directors, to whom they have lodged their complaints.
“The management is very aware of our frustration. We have (also) complained bitterly to the Minister of Labour (Keith Scott) about the issue. But the GPSCCU Board has laid the blame squarely at the feet of the Ministry.
The GPSCCU Board of Directors is currently headed by Patrick Yarde. Yarde is also President of the GPSU.
The management committee of the GPSCCU had outlined that under the last administration an agreement was signed that stipulates that the Credit Union will no longer pay monies for dividends to the Government‘s Audit and Supervision Fund, but the monies will instead be used to fund education and training programmes.
However, members are contending that the said agreement was not signed by then Minister of Labour Nanda Gopaul, but his acting Chief Cooperative Development Officer.
The law stipulates that only the Minister can waive any payment to Government in such a manner. The former Minister did not sign to the document which essentially makes it illegitimate, and should not result in a hold up of the AGM,” another picketer Duane St John stated.
“We are therefore calling for the immediate intervention of the Minister towards the holding of the AGM,” he added. The protestors estimate that dividends owed to members is roughly around $24 million – for the years 2011, 2012, 2013.
Last year, the Ministry of Social Protection expressed its disappointment with “the conduct and behaviour of the Committee of Management of the GPSSCU” which it accused of “acting against the interest of its members and against the principles of prudent management styles.
In a statement issued by the ministry’s Department of Labour it was stated that members of the society have not been paid dividends for several years now because of the society’s inability and in some respects blatant refusal to hold an Annual General Meeting.
An AGM is usually held upon the completion of the Audit of the Accounts of the Society in conformity with the Provisions and Regulations as are contained in the Co-operative Societies Act, Chapter 88:01, of the Laws of Guyana.
“For more than one year now, the Ministry of Social Protection under whose supervision Co-operative Societies fall, has been advising the GPSCCU on the necessary legal steps to be followed to ensure that the Audit of its accounts were completed so that the AGM could be held, to facilitate, among other things, the payment of well deserved dividends to the members.
On the contrary, the Committee of Management demanded that the Ministry permit the society to continue enjoying a certain unfair advantage which had prevailed in the past, and which had been developed under suspicious circumstances.”
According to the ministry, in spite of the several meetings and exchange of correspondences which clearly outlined its position of discontinuance of the unfair advantage to the Guyana Public Service Union Credit Union, its Committee of Management continued to defy the Ministry’s advice and even threatened to institute legal proceedings if the unfair advantage, which, for all intents and purposes was discriminatory, not allowed to continue.
“The Ministry had advised all members of the Guyana Public Service Credit Union that it is not to be held responsible for the AGM not being held at this time or any other time earlier.
The Ministry had advised all Co-operative Societies and more particularly Credit Unions that the current dispensation does not allow for preferential treatment to anyone. The Law will be applied fairly, and equitably to all and sundry. At this time, we have no interest in divulging the parameters of the unfair advantage which the Guyana Public Service Credit Union enjoys, but if we are forced to do so, then by all means that will be done,” the statement signed by Keith Scott Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection stated.
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