City workers paid, garbage collection resumes

Town Clerk Beulah Williams said yesterday that the striking workers have been paid their October salaries and garbage collection in the city has resumed.

This comes a day after President Bharrat Jagdeo agreed to allocate $184M to the indebted City Hall to pay off the garbage collectors, who had halted their services over pay, and the striking employees.

However the focus for yesterday seemed to be on removing the large garbage mounds around Central Georgetown.

Most householders may have to wait until today to have their garbage piles removed as when this newspaper passed several areas yesterday afternoon, filled garbage bins were still at the side of some roadways.

General Secretary of the Guyana Labour Union, Carvil Duncan, when contacted yesterday told Stabroek News that the strike has ended. He stated that a commitment was given that the workers will resume their duties after the president promised that he would make the money available.

Duncan said that at a meeting with the workers yesterday morning, they agreed to return to work based on the pledge made by the president.

Asked about a possible recurrence of this situation, Duncan said that this will not happen at least for the remainder of the year. He explained that City Hall has said that enough money will be accumulated to pay November and December salaries.

Yesterday, when this newspaper visited the Stabroek Market area there was a pungent odour from fly-infested garage piles. Some of the roadside bins were filled to capacity and rubbish littered that area and in some cases it flowed onto the roadway.

This newspaper spoke with several persons who were conducting their business in the area and they all expressed satisfaction that the situation has been resolved as that area would have turned into a “garbage city” if things had not changed by weekend.

One woman said that it is upsetting and very unfair what the M&CC workers have to endure especially when they have bills to pay and young children to take care of.

Some of the persons Stabroek News spoke with said that some vendors don’t care about their surroundings because they just dump their waste behind the market without thinking about the possible effects this could have on their health.

While sympathizing with the affected workers, persons said that vendors especially should have acted more responsibly.

One man stressed too that the health of the workers who have to remove that garbage pile will be at risk.

This newspaper noticed that the garbage collectors were wearing scant protective gear. In one case one of the workers was dressed in three quarter pants and a pair of rubber slippers. None of them wore masks on their face and endured the fumes from the rotting garbage.

President Jagdeo along with Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Kellawan Lall, Town Clerk Williams, General Secretary of the Guyana Labour Union Duncan and others met on Wednesday at State House to discuss the dilemma the council and the city were in.

It was here that Jagdeo agreed to allocate $140M to the City Council to pay its workers as well as $44M in an advance for Central Government taxes for the last quarter of the year.

The crisis started to unfold late last week when the union representing the workers, the GLU, threatened strike action over the workers not being paid for the month of October.

Mayor of Georgetown Hamilton Green had repeatedly blamed the government for the situation the council is in stressing that the council is not being allowed to broaden its revenue base.

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