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City workers to strike over non-payment of NIS, income tax, union dues

Hundreds of  municipal workers are Tuesday expected to take strike action to pressure City Hall to pay almost GY$300 million in deductions from their salaries to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Guyana Labour Union and a credit union.

Chairman of City Council’s Finance Committee, Oscar Clarke acceded to Councillor, Akeem Peter’s request that a report on the un-remitted deductions be tabled to the full Council, but cautioned that would not prevent the workers from going on strike. “It can be made available but the fact of the matter, that is not going to prevent the union from going on strike because that doesn’t mean that we’ll be in a position to remit the monies to all of these agencies,” he said.

Town Clerk, Royston King said an agreement has been already reached with the NIS to service outstanding debts while remaining current with monthly payments. He said NIS  and the City Treasurer’s department have already reconciled records to confirm the amount of money owed to that social security agency. King said City Hall hoped to to have a similar agreement with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

Figures provided by the City Treasurer, Ron Mc Almont to Monday’s Council meeting showed that GRA is owed GY$138 million, NIS GY$116 million plus GY$9 million in interest of which GY$10.3 million have been already paid and GY$36.47 million to the credit union dating back to August 2017.  Social security and income tax deductions have not been remitted since March, 2017. President of the Guyana Labour Union (GLU), Carville Duncan said City Hall has not remitted about GY$1.5 million in union dues for the past three months.

The Treasurer assured that debts were being settled. “We  have started and we will continue to do so while we are keeping the current deductions up to date,” he said. Mc Almont said arrears to the credit union for June and July last year have been already paid, and GY$37.5 million for a five percent back-pay dating back to 2015 have been already paid.

The Town Clerk said the City administration had to make a decision between paying workers their wages and salaries or remitting the deductions to the various agencies. “What we sought to do last year was to satisfy wages and salaries demand while we wait to remit the deduction to the various agencies. Had we not done that, workers would not have received their money even though there was a delay in payment,” King said. King added that the increased wages and salaries had been hinged on certain revenue generating measures did not fructify.

People’s Progressive Party Civic Councillor, Bhisham Kuppen called for the Finance Committee to table a full report on the GRA and NIS debts to the entire Council instead of mere oral presentations. “Simply by him standing there and giving these explanations, I think is worthless and disrespectful to this batch of elected councillors and a written report must be presented to this Council as soon as possible,” Kuppen said.

King said the matters are being discussed by the Finance Committee and workers to ensure that the backlog of arrears are being cleared.