Apr 30, 2021 News
…blames failure to predict fuel price, COVID-19
The Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) is being met with protest action by workers demanding an ‘across-the-board’ increase in pay, in addition to hiked ‘performance-pay-incentives,’ but the power company is claiming an inability to meet the increases, given the higher-than-projected fuel price on the world market as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
As such, GPL is of the view that were it to meet the payments being called for by the workers’ representative body—the National Association of Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE)—it would result in “the largest impact on the company’s financial position.”
The utility company gave the disclosure on Wednesday in reaction to the protest action by workers this past week.
According to the company, the fuel price on the world market during the course of the first quarter of the year is double what it had projected and should the prices remain “at this level, the company will incur additional and unbudgeted expenditure of approximately $6B.”
The company in a public missive yesterday disclosed that during its negotiations with NAACIE in relation to the increases being called for, the union had agreed to 66 of the 68 clauses that formed part of the talks.
It lamented that the protest action by the union is ‘unnecessary,’ since the power company remains committed to addressing the matter with NAACIE.
The power company, in seeking to outline the state of affairs, reminded that the talks over the Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) for salary increases for 2020 to 2022 saw submissions by the utility company being made to the union since July 2020.
According to GPL, the proposal it had submitted includes a restructured performance-based-incentive, which it maintains, “would positively impact annual salary increases.”
The power company in its missive disclosed that its proposal was met with a counter-proposal by NAACIE, calling for increases in salaries at 15 percent for 2020, before being increased incrementally on an annual basis by 17 percent the next year, then 19 percent in 2022.
To this end, the power company lamented, if this was acquiesced to, it “would have the largest impact” on the company’s financial position.
The company has since also used the occasion to not only dispute reports of an automatic 12 percent annual increase that was said to be paid to the company’s executive directors saying “there is absolutely no truth in this statement.”
Additionally, as it relates to its treatment of workers, the power company insisted that despite its financial position, in December last, it gave all staff a $25,000 payout, and noted too, that the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a negative impact on its financial bottom line.
According to the company, “the pandemic contributed to a significant and unbudgeted expenditure that was necessary to ensure the company’s continued operations.”
The company has nonetheless expressed a commitment to “amicably the existing differences through negotiations, and GPL expects that the union will embrace a responsible position on this matter.”
On Tuesday, workers at GPL took to the streets and protested for the finalisation of their long-awaited salary increase. This protest was triggered after the GPL directors reportedly received a 12% salary increase, while the senior and junior staff is still awaiting a final agreement from the company on their increase, even though negotiations commenced since July 2020.
The disgruntled workers lined up on Main Street, Georgetown, directly in front of the GPL’s office and chanted, “We want 12% like the directors, ” “We want more money” and “Stop using our monies to buy fancy vehicles for the directors,” as they held up placards with these same demands.
The GPL Board consists of eight directors and the Chairman, Maurice Gajadar. The Directors are Marcel Gaskin, Dr. Sixtus Edwards, Dr. Mahendra Sharma, Komal Ramnauth, Godfrey Washington, Nicolas Boyer, Shabeer Hussain and Alfred King.
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