Garbage piles up as Linden Town Council workers strike

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By Isanella Patoir

Workers attached to the Mayor and Town Council in Linden commenced strike action on Thursday last for retroactive payments owed for this year.

The Local Government Commission earlier this year sent out a document stating that municipal workers are to be paid a minimum of $64,200.

The workers on strike are from the Solid Waste Management, Engineering and Constabulary departments; the strike action is in the form of a sit-in.

When contacted, General Secretary of the Guyana Labour Union (GLU), Carvil Duncan told the News Room that the employees will not return to work unless they are paid the retroactive monies.

“It is a sit-in action for now and if no positive response in relation to the first set of increases, the $64, 200, then that action is going to be beefed up and turn into a full led strike and we will walk the streets on Monday,” Duncan threatened.

He clarified that the workers are not asking for an increase but want to be paid what is owed to them. Duncan said in 2018 the workers’ salary increased to $55,000.

“….but the retroactivity on that amount has not yet been paid. On the 5th of June 2019, the Local Government Commission sent out a circular saying that no municipality or district council should pay less than 64,200 which is retroactive from January 2019,” Duncan said.

“What we are saying is pay the $64,200 as instructed by the Local Government Commission and then we can deal with the $70,000 minimum at a later stage.”

President David Granger last month announced that public servants’ minimum wage be increased to $70,000 from $64,220 per month.

Duncan said the Union has a collective agreement signed with the Council which states that the salaries of the Municipal are compatible with that of the Government.

“All we are asking for is, pay us what we are entitled to,” Duncan said.

“One of the worst things you can do in industrial relations is to start an action and don’t cease till completion,” Duncan said.

He explained that the union did not meet with the Council and there has been no contact since the strike action.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Linden Waneka Arrindell told the News Room she is not aware of the reason for the strike.

“There has been no clarity to what the workers are asking for. The Union has not written to say exactly what the strike is about,” the Mayor said.

Mayor of Linden Waneka Arrindell

According to the Mayor, the GLU sent a letter on November 14 and requested that the Council meet with them within 72 hours to discuss “important matters.”

“We met with them and we had our discussion. The union did not give us any other follow-up, subsequently we realized the [workers] were on sit-in Thursday so we took the matter to Labour,” the Mayor said.

The Council met with the Department of Labour on Monday and suggested that the employees return to work.

“The Council would have met with the staff and the union and we did discuss the increase. The Council has inserted in its budget the salary increase for both last year and this year,” the Mayor said.

The Mayor said that the Council is not in a position to pay the retroactive now as they work by revenue collection.

She explained that they made contact with the Central Housing & Planning Authority to hand over housing schemes that are not under the Council.

“We are also revising the toll booth by laws so that we can have some more stringent rules put in place to garner that funds. If that is done we would be able to accommodate and sustain a salary increase,” the Mayor said.

However, the Council is already seeing the effects of the strike. The Mayor noted that with the Solid Waste Department on strike, there has been a heavy buildup of garbage in the town.

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