Efforts made to thwart Cabinet’s decision on sweeper cleaners, GPSU says


The vexing issue concerning the welfare of sweeper cleaners across the country was Friday morning thrown into the spotlight with the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) claiming that there are efforts within the regions to thwart a cabinet decision which offers cleaners eight hours working days at a rate of $2,495 a day.

At a press conference at the Union’s Headquarters, President (ag) Dawn Gardener said the union received complaints from its members in Region #10 that letters were served to cleaners, seeking to reduce the eight hours per day.

She is concerned that once that is done, it will also reduce the pay afforded to the cleaners while reminding that before cleaners were made to work longer hours for less pay.

“Even though this was a Cabinet decision there are efforts of some senior officials within the regions, who think they have the authority to amend a Cabinet decision, by trying to reduce the working hours of these cleaners,” she said.

The substantive Vice President could not say how many cleaners are affected by this new development but condemned it in the strongest terms.

Ms. Gardener said the union was very happy for the breakthrough, pointing out that the issues surrounding the welfare of cleaners date back to 2003.

She also recalled protest action in August 2017 to bring attention to the plight of cleaners and the subsequent meeting between the union and the Ministry of Education.

The union had asked for a number of measures but in a circular from the Government but in an interim agreement the cleaners pay and work hours were regularised.

In bringing attention to this new development, the Union said it will continue its representation for sweeper cleaners to be granted sick leave and be appointed to the permanent pensionable establishment.

Gardener told reporters that the union continues to also insist on cleaners being granted vacation leave and allowance, all in keeping with the public service rules.

“They must be paid the government minimum wage… and when they attain the age of retirement they must be paid all benefits for the period of employment.”

Gardener said efforts will continue in the fight for these basic benefits even as they prepare to approach the government on this most recent development.

She also lamented the minimal progress made on the issue for which engagement has been ongoing since 2003.

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