Although some municipal workers continued protest action yesterday over the nonpayment of their salaries for October, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has said that it has completed its payroll.
A press statement that was issued by the M&CC on Thursday also stated that it has started preparation of the November payroll.
The M&CC’s Public Relations Officer Debra Lewis yesterday explained that some workers were unable to immediately access their salaries because of the banking arrangements. “At Republic Bank, after the cheque was deposited, some hours after workers were able to get their salaries but at other banks it took a day and those staff were not able to get their salaries,” she said, while noting that all staff members were able to access salaries yesterday.
Lewis had earlier explained that due to the positive response to the municipality’s current amnesty on interest owed on unpaid rates and taxes, the M&CC was able to secure funds to pay staff.
On Thursday, around one hundred workers, including staff from the Town Clerk’s office as well as the Engineer’s and the Market and Public Health departments, assembled in front of City Hall and engaged in a picketing exercise.
In addition to demanding the payment of their salaries, the workers also called for their National Insurance Scheme contributions and credit union dues to be paid in order for them to receive their benefits.
President of the Guyana Local Government Officers Union (GLGOU) Wendy De Cunha said the union was prepared to back staff members until they were paid their salaries. “We have decided to take industrial action today and close many sections of the municipality, in order to let the administration know that we mean business. We have had enough of this late payment and being [told] wait and be patient,” she said.
De Cunha added that while workers were awaiting their salaries, pensioners were also still awaiting their pensions. The president of the union also said she was upset to learn that a private contractor was paid for services provided before staff members were able to receive their salaries. “Instead of paying workers, the administration has been paying a private contractor. Some of that same money could have paid off workers. It is totally unfair to us,” she argued.
It is the fourth consecutive month that workers have been paid late by the city, De Cunha noted, while stating that the administration needs to ensure that its staff members are paid on time.
“Having a financial situation is not the staff at fault, it is the administration that is having financial difficulties. The staff are hired to perform a service and anyone that is hired to perform a service at a job must be paid because you are asking workers to come to work every day and give of their best and at the end of the month they are being told to have patience and be tolerant and this has been ongoing for some months. The workers have had enough and enough is enough,” De Cunha declared.
In addition, the GLGOU president also called for the city administration to pay workers’ NIS contributions and union dues. De Cunha explained that the deductions of the contributions are reflected monthly on pay slips but they are not being remitted to the respective agencies. She stated that it is unfair to staff and the union had raised the issue with the administration at several meetings but nothing has been done to date to rectify the situation.