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GPL rules out pegging salary increases, bonuses to lower oil prices

Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) on Tuesday virtually ruled out its workers taking home hefty bonuses or higher wages and salaries, although the power company is projected to rake in GUY$7 billion in profits this year due to a fall in world oil prices.

“I would say that the practice has not linked our negotiations to oil prices and I don’t believe we are about to start that,” Chairman of GPL’s Board of Directors, Winston Brassington told a news conference.

President of the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), Kenneth Joseph told Demerara Waves Online News that his union would not rule out crafting a proposal for workers to benefit from the profit.

That utility company expects to earn profits or break even once the price of oil does not exceed US$70 per barrel. The company plans to spend US$75 million on Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) this year, compared to the US$105 spent on that resource in 2014. But the power company Chairman argued that was not a good enough reason to award increases especially in an environment of price volatility.

““I don’t think that simply because fuel prices have dropped- something which is not predicted to be sustainable- that we should look to necessarily because of that alone increase the wages of our workers because if the fuel prices go back up, do we take it back,” he said.

Brassington noted that even when the company lost money, employees’ salaries have been hiked consistent with government increases- for example the 5 percent payout and 8 percent to persons working for less than GUY$50,000 monthly. “Our negotiations with the unions are not guided simply by whether we are making a profit or not because if use that yard-stick we would never pay increases,” he said.

The GPL Chairman boasted that the company’s workers are well compensated as at least GUY$2 million are spent on each employee.

Brassington said the focus now was on passing on the benefits of lower oil prices to consumers, even as the company remained committed to negotiations based on Collective Labour Agreements. Of the GUY$7 billion projected profit, GPL has reduced its tariffs by 10 percent from March, 2015, but has cautioned that the tariff can increase if global oil prices recover.

NAACIE wants GPL to treat  a pay increase granted last year as an interim payout pending the outcome of further negotiations.