GPL proposes 4% pay hike, union says ‘that can’t work’

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Discussions between the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and the workers’ representative body continued for a third round on Thursday with GPL now proposing a four per cent salary increase for some 750 subordinate employees.

But the union – the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) – has rejected the offer as it holds steadfast to its request for GPL to afford a seven per cent increase.

Speaking to the News Room after the meeting, a union representative said GPL is failing to recognise the increase in cost of living. “That cannot work,” the union representative said via telephone.

GPL has maintained, despite a $4 billion bailout at the end of 2021, that it cannot afford a seven per cent salary increase at this time.

The union said it is now seeking the intervention of the government as a 100 per cent shareholder in GPL.

“Why is it that a company 100 per cent state-owned can’t get the blessing of the state to offer a seven per cent as was done to GuySuCo, other public servants and constitutional agencies?

“GPL should not be different… the union moved from double percentages to accept a seven per cent… in keeping with what the government has done for other sectors,” the union representative said.

At a December 2021 press conference, Chief Executive Officer Bharat Dindyal said the company could not afford any increase because it was challenged by both losses and debts.

But the union believes there is a fix and it is by increasing tariffs. The last time tariffs were increased was in 2013.

The Parliament last year approved a request by the government for a $4 billion payout to GPL but the News Room understands that even when that cash is transferred to the company’s account, they will still be in a $10 billion debt.

It was only in May 2021 that GPL paid a five per cent salary increase for 2020 in keeping with an agreement reached with NAACIE.

The increase amounted to some $200 million. According to that agreement, the five per cent is regarded as a full and final settlement of all claims for increases in remuneration for the year 2020.

Then, the two sides had agreed to urgently consider the proposals for a revised Collective Labour Agreement for the period 2021 – 2023.

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