FITUG wants $60k minimum wage applied forthwith, GAWU hints at higher adjustment

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The Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITUG) and its affiliate, the Guyana Agricultural and Workers Union (GAWU), used the 2022 May Day rally to call for the implementation of the $60,000 minimum wage to be done forthwith.

The call came with urgency on Sunday, two years after a recommendation was put forward and an agreement was subsequently reached for the minimum wage in the private sector to be increased.

Despite this, it remains at $44,200 since 2017 when it was increased from $35,000; businesses have complained of financial injury due to the COVID-19 pandemic and had asked for time before the adjustment could be implemented.

A section of the gathering at the NIS Ground on Sunday for FITUG’s May Day rally [Photo: News Room/ May 01, 2022]
President of FITUG Carvil Duncan decried the delay in applying the increase by private sector employers and said the issue has now been compounded by an increase in the cost of living.

He said some employers have indicated their willingness to pay employees the $60, 000 minimum wage but said they need the relevant authorities to make the pronouncement and the increase legal.

In February, Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton said the recommendation was submitted to Cabinet and it was receiving active consideration.

He could not give a timeline for when the increase would be actually imposed.

“I say to them [businesses] now if you have the ability to pay and you are satisfied that your workers are poorly paid, then pay them and don’t wait on nobody.

“It is said that the private sector is the engine of growth and they must demonstrate that growth but while grass growing the ass starving,” Duncan posited.

He was backed up by President of GAWU Seepaul Narine who said it was well anticipated that by this time, with support from social partners, the new minimum wage for the private sector would have been implemented.

“Considering that it is very difficult for any worker to survive on the current minimum wage,” he added.

President of GAWU Seepaul Narine

Narine said considering inflation and the increased cost of living, the proposed $60, 000 may require further consideration for higher adjustment.

In 2019, a National Tripartite Committee (NTC) that was tasked with a number of labour related matters between the government and business sector proposed the $60,000 minimum increase in wages for the private sector.

It was only in December 2021 that the Private Sector Commission (PSC) announced that the increase was approved.

Before that latest development, private sector representative bodies and the Ministry of Labour, through the National Tripartite Committee (NTC), were at odds over the decision.

The matter was also stalled after the life of the NTC had expired in 2021.

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