Eleven Demerara Timbers Limited (DTL) workers, who were dismissed for protesting in front of the company’s head office on October 3, yesterday took their grievance to the Ministry of the Presidency.
The workers told Stabroek News that they want President David Granger to address the matter urgently. “We want the President to see how he can help us because we have children going to school…,” a female worker said.
The workers were shocked that they were given letters of dismissal after standing up for their rights in the one-day protest. The workers were pressing for salary increases.
They pointed out that they have not earned an income since then and are facing financial difficulties. They said too that they have bills and mortgages and their families to take care of.
According to the workers, they have not been paid their severance either and now the company is “putting us off the concession.”
Another female worker said Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman had said, “We should resume duties immediately but up to now we are off the job.”
A senior official of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) Aslim Singh told this newspaper, “Since the dismissal of the workers, efforts by the Ministry of Social Protection to have the company and the union engage in discussions, have been unsuccessful.”
He said the company has refused to attend any meetings and management has said that it would not reinstate the employees.
“In keeping with the grievance procedure,” he said, “the next move was for the ministry to summon the company to meetings [and they did] on more than one occasion but they have bluntly refused to attend. Their action is most disrespectful to the ministry and the workers concerned because the company must abide by all of the laws and rules, like anyone else in the country.”
He said the union is calling on the government to intervene to have the company respect the law and have the matter amicably resolved.
General Secretary of GAWU Seepaul Narine said the picketing exercise on October 3 was to force the company to respect the ministry and to engage in negotiations with the union.
He said the workers are asking the government to pay attention to the matter as they have failed to act so far.
“There is a matter for pay increase for 2015 and it is still there,” Narine said. He added that the workers want to highlight to the President that there is need to have the matter addressed quickly.
In a statement, GAWU said the decision by the company “must be seen as yet another anti-worker and anti-union act, which is occurring rather frequently these days. The company’s action must be seen as tantamount to denying the workers their right to participate in peaceful picketing.
“This is the first time in history that an entity, private or public, has taken a decision of this incredulous nature.”