Working classes still being exploited despite change in government

Dear Editor,

It’s a relief to see the minibus operators picketing for a reduction in gas prices, instead of increases in fares. I do not agree with one article in the dailies that for over a decade there has not been a raise in bus fares.

A short drop fare is supposed to be sixty dollars, but during the PPP/C era, the fare was increased to eighty dollars, and sadly on the West Coast of Demerara, it is one hundred dollars. At a certain hour they demand that fare, and some so-called ‘shine bus,’ charge three hundred instead of two hundred dollars. However, instead of calling for an increase, they are calling for a reduction which is fair enough, because I am sure they are aware of the conditions of people’s wages in society today.

Not too long ago I penned a letter about the wages and working conditions in places, especially on the West Coast, and immediately after I heard that some official had visited a certain place I mentioned. Now I am not hearing of any development at these places, and it should be noted that many places are still underpaying staff, with the threat of things are hard, people are looking for jobs and people want work.

Now most shop girls are working above seven or eight hours daily, for a measly one thousand dollars or twelve hundred dollars. I know definitely twelve hundred dollars is the most being offered, especially in Berbice and on the West Coast of Demerara. What is even more disgusting is that they are forced to work whole days on Saturdays and Sundays for the same rate of pay, and are given a day off during the week.

Now, those are not the only atrocities being committed against the working public, since in Guyana, it seems as though your job designation has a different meaning. Most places you go to, including some government ministries, you will find the security guard querying your purpose of visit, calling to verify, etc. Some even have to either direct, or escort you. The only reason that the job is not designated as guard-receptionist is because they are not answering the telephones.

Job security has a whole new meaning here for me. You visit a store, the employees have to sweep and wipe. They have to fetch, pack, measure, and do a lot of extra work beyond their duties as sales girl/boy. They should be given the cleaner’s salary, and the handyman’s/porter’s salary as well, since they are doing those jobs. In fact, I know they are not getting those salaries, and incidentally, no one seems to take notice.

When this government took over, their first action was to award themselves with a huge salary increase, citing that this will ease the corruption, but we are still hearing of allegations. They enjoy free living, some of them are paying a huge rent per month that the average man cannot earn in a whole year. Their allowances are more than anyone’s month’s salary, and to top it off, you can round off any minister’s salary to the hundreds of thousands, and still the man doing a decent job is not getting enough to match the change in a minister’s salary.

Similarly like the previous administration, they are not concerned about the working class, they are just enjoying the benefits attached to the job. You hear about them taking family and friends to the Marriott Hotel regularly.

One only has to watch at what is taking place and make their own assumption, and realise that we are only living on promises while we are decaying.

Yours faithfully,

Sahadeo Bates

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