Nov 26, 2021 News
—but laments low wages in private sector
Kaieteur News – The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) has acknowledged that the seven percent pay increase offered to public servants is inadequate, but said in the private sector the increase is several times more than what those employers are offering to their workers.
The umbrella trade union movement made the comments in a statement issued on Thursday on the matter. Last Thursday, the Irfaan Ali Government announced a mere seven percent, across-the-board salary increase for public servants, retroactive from January 2021.
This comes even after the State workers did not get an increase in salary last year. Making the announcement on behalf of the Government was Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh. “I am pleased to announce now that your Government will be paying an across-the-board increase of seven percent to public servants, teachers, members of the disciplined services, constitutional office holders, as well as government pensioners. This increase will be granted retroactively to 1 January 2021, and work will start immediately to ensure that it is processed and paid to eligible employees together with their December salary and in time for the festive Christmas season,” the Minister explained. Since then, there has been widespread condemnation of the seven percent imposition.
According to FITUG it has noted the comments and analysis offered by several commentators and organisations. “For its part, the Federation itself has concerns with the pay rise as we take the wider situation into account and the plight of the ordinary people. The announcement by Dr. Singh came soon after an address to the nation by His Excellency President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali who reiterated his government’s commitment to improving workers’ pay. In that address, the President called to attention the impact the global supply chain issues were having on the local populace.”
FITUG says while it recognises there may be little the Government can do to control these external events, “we note too, the President’s seeming disappointment in that the measures his government took to relieve some pressures, are not reaching the ordinary people. Indeed, it is saddening that despite the Government foregoing of billions of dollars to the Treasury, businesses are not transferring the intended benefit to the consuming public.”
“While the pay rise may not have met the expectations of some, at the same time, we are aware that in the unorganised private sector, the increase is several times more than what those employers are offering to their employees. We have received information that some businesses have hardly sought to address their employees’ plight while in other cases have ignored it altogether. This comes at a time when we see increased buoyancy in the business sector and many businesses reporting record-breaking profitability and expansive plans for future investment,” the union said.
According to FITUG, undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic, from all appearances, had little impact “and we congratulate the business sector on its achievement. We also cannot ignore that the successes recorded cannot and we daresay should not be delinked from the efforts of the employees of those businesses. Indeed, many businesses do not exist on their own but are supported by their employees. Undoubtedly, those employees should benefit from the successes their firms enjoy.” FITUG said it believes, at the very least, businesses should award their employees no lesser than a seven per cent pay rise. “It is our considered view that it allows private businesses to continue to attract and retain skills to sustain their operations while seeking to alleviate some of the burdens their employees are fetching currently.
“As we contrast remuneration in the public and private sectors, we also cannot ignore the widening disparity between the national and public sector minimum wages. With the recent increase approved by Government, the valley between the two wages has widened to $30,700 per month. Thus, employees at the national minimum wage level must work some two (2) months before they earn what their counterparts earn in the public sector. We are aware that a few businesses pay more than the national minimum wage, but yet there are very many that are rigidly adhering to the basement pay level. At its current level, the national minimum wage is really a pauperization wage and we again, as we have several times before, urge the authorities to address in a meaningful manner the long-outstanding issue. Certainly, there is urgent need for an adjustment,” FITUG said.
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