NAACIE says GPL balking at talks, workers restive

NAACIE General Secretary Kenneth Joseph says the Guyana Power and Light’s (GPL) refusal to meet to discuss issues affecting employees it represents is a strategy employed by the company to deny workers increases and year-end bonuses.

In a press release, NAACIE said its executive and members are upset at GPL’s refusal to negotiate proposals for better wages, salaries and working conditions for its members.

NAACIE said since May 16, 2012, it despatched to GPL its Memorandum of Demands outlining its proposals and claims to constitute a renewed Collective Labour Agreement covering conditions affecting the GPL workers for which NAACIE is the sole bargaining agent.

The proposals were to cover from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012 and related to wages contractual salaries increase, overtime worked, stand-by time, a variety of allowances and premiums, first aid medical facilities, among the varied benefits and responsibilities that affect these GPL while conducting their duties, including during risky hours of work.

“After five (5) months the Company entertained NAACIE to a brief meeting in early November during which it was agreed that more substantial discussions would ensue at another early session,” the statement said. However, to date no such meeting has been convened even as the end of the year is imminent. “The Union and workers are now therefore disgusted by this obvious, deliberate discourtesy and insult to its workers and the union,” it said.

“Even though this is not about Christmas per se” Joseph explained, “it reeks of insulting behaviour towards the workers bargaining agent as well as the usual contempt for the Unionised employees who are not contractual favourites of the CEO and his team. Something has got to give if there is no courtesy urgently.”

He also believes that GPL’s contempt is perhaps patterned after the technique where even the State seems to be ignoring the industrial relations democratic custom and practice of Collective Labour Agreements. “But GPL workers belong to a corporate entity, somewhat distinct from the more governmental employees, though NAACIE views the contribution of every worker vital to national development for which they must be rewarded commensurately,” he said.

According to Joseph, it is now up to GPL to act and he hopes “good sense will prevail in this season of goodwill when industrial peace should also prevail.”

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