May 26, 2022 News
– union says local workforce not reaping benefits of growing sectors
Kaieteur News – Guyana’s oil –fuelled economic boom is evident in a wide range of local businesses that have been recording positive growth within the country. This is despite the more than a two–year running Covid -19 pandemic that significantly impacted, among other important areas, the world’s fiscal operations.
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) General Secretary, Aslim Singh has attributed the successes of local businesses to the dedication and efforts put in by the country’s work force. However, Singh said, the workers’ union is convinced that Guyana’s working class is not reaping the benefits of their contributions to the growth of the private sector. He said that just recently, it was revealed that Guyana’s market capitalisation had passed the trillion dollar mark.
“So it tells you that the economy and businesses are growing in many instances if you use what is happening in the publicly traded companies.” On the other hand, whether these gains are reaching the workers, Singh said, “it is the view of the union that benefits are not.” He pointed specifically to the minimum wage of $44,200. After calculating the $44,200 sum and taking inflation into consideration, the union found that the minimum wage really works out to $39,000. He told this newspaper that many workers within the private sector do not enjoy increased sums.
The Guyana Association of Securities Companies and Intermediaries Inc (GASCI) reported earlier this month that the market capitalisation of the Guyana Stock Exchange crossed the $1 trillion mark at the end of trading on April 25, 2022. In an advertisement published in the Stabroek Business, it was stated that the Market capitalisation now stands at $1.014 trillion or US$4.8B having moved from $18.3 billion at the end of 2003, and experiencing significant increases in value between 2017 and 2022.
“This achievement is a testament to the strong performance of the companies listed on the exchange and the confidence that investors have in the financial future of these companies and the economy as a whole.” The GASCI said that, the trend is most likely influenced by the projections of increased future national economic gains emanating from the oil and gas industry, its supporting industries and other fast-growing sectors of the economy.
Singh noted however that it is widely known that the private sector is the engine of growth. “But any engine requires fuel to work and in this case, the engine requires workers.” The union executive noted that much emphasis is being placed on companies getting the best machines and services, “But nobody seems to value the workers in the same way to have and encourage good competent and committed workers.”
As it relates to the local oil sector which has positioned Guyana to be the fastest growing nation in the world, Singh said there is a lot of talk about worker’s rights and local content, but all of these must be centred on the concept or respect for workers. “We don’t believe that many workers enjoy the respect that they deserve although they are contributing in different ways to the success that companies are recording.” Labour unions have called for the increase of minimum wage for particularly private sector workers. President for the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), Carvil Duncan had said that private companies had declared their willingness to increase workers pay, but had claimed that they were waiting on the government to officially make the announcement. The FITUG President had urged the private sector during Labour Day events to make the pay increases if they could have afforded. His call came among issues such as the global increase in cost of living. The wage increase which was approved for workers since 2019 is said to be with the Government cabinet for the President’s approval. (Zena Henry)
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