Private sector unhappy at short notice on new minimum wage

-points to implications of five-day work week

While the Private Sector Commission (PSC) has welcomed the new national minimum wage of $35,000 per month which it said was long overdue to bring relief to the lowest paid workers, it voiced concern at the short notice of one month to implement the order.

According to a statement from the PSC yesterday, for many employers, including security firms and exporters who have contracts with foreign firms, the lack of adequate notice means that they would have already negotiated contracts based upon the old wage rates and would not be able to renegotiate those contracts.

The release said that a number of employers, particularly those in the garment industry which have to compete with such countries as China, Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic, are now faced with the prospect of laying off of workers in an effort “to avoid the collapse of their businesses.”

The PSC said that the country could ill afford to have workers being laid off at this time and advocated that bidders should at least be allowed to renegotiate government contracts.

The release pointed out that another concern of employers was the new provision for the forty hour work week to be restricted to five days.  It said that most employers have been complying with a forty hour work week but spread over a five and a half day week.  The PSC said that for many employers the new order meant that work on Saturdays would no longer be an option which would lead to a cessation of operations on those days.

The Commission stated that this crucial issue affects not only employers but the sustained livelihood of thousands of Guyanese workers.