When the 2016 Budget is presented in January, sweeper/cleaners who earn meagre salaries can expect to see their wages increased to at least minimum wage, according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon.
“Well, definitely we have started working on it. I really do not see that there are major hurdles still to be crossed. I do not see it…,” Harmon said when asked by Stabroek News if the 2016 Budget caters for the rectifying of the sweeper/cleaners’ salaries.
Government’s announ-cement comes on the heels of criticisms from the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) which accused the David Granger administration of being uncaring, as a 2013 Cabinet decision by the former PPP/C government to have sweeper/cleaners benefit from a pay increase is yet to be implemented.
GPSU President Patrick Yarde said the decision by the former PPP/C government catered for this specific category of workers to be paid the minimum wage of $35,000 per month retroactive to July 2013. The minimum wage has since been increased to $50,000.
He recalled that while in opposition, President David Granger had spoken in support of the decision but to date the new administration is yet to implement it.
In August, during his budget presentation, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan announced an increase for sweeper/ cleaners in the education system who from September, he had said, would be paid $312 per hour reflecting a 54 per cent increase. The plight of sweepers/ cleaners had been drawn to the attention of APNU and the AFC who now make up the coalition government several years ago.
Harmon explained that the calculations were different for this category of workers as compared to others in the public sector. “They are not just the same category of workers; these are people who work for a specific number of hours in the school system and therefore the arrangements for them have to be carefully worked out,” he said.
“I understand the union’s anxiety but we’ve also asked that the sweeper/cleaners understand that we have their interest at heart but that there are specific features of the kind of service which they provide, the hours of work which they provide on a daily basis that would have to be categorized so we can make a decision in that regard,” he added.
The Minister of State informed that government has already been talking with the union that has provided proposals which are now being considered.