Fate of wage negotiations in limbo, as Guysuco rules out 2015 pay hike

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 March 2016, 13:16 by Denis Chabrol

In the wake of an announcement by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) that it cannot afford to pay wage and salary increases for last year, the two unions said their next move would be to await the outcome of talks next weeks.

President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand said he was waiting on the corporation to decide next week  Tuesday on whether it would engage in collective bargaining. “They ought to go through the process where we negotiate, we convince them why we must give something here, a fringe benefit and then we could talk about going to the next stage but we need to exhaust our bilateral negotiations unless both parties mutually agree to bypass it, we (GAWU) are not prepared to bypass it,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

Chand said the one-day per week strike remained on “pause,” despite Guysuco’s latest position.

GAWU wants a nine percent increase in wages and salaries for 2015, while being fully aware that it would have to settle for less in a negotiation.

By Chand’s account that process that has not been held between the two sides for 2015. He said all that representatives of GAWU and its sister sugar union, National Association of Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), have been told by Guysuco is that it could not afford to pay wage and salary increases for last year.

Guysuco’s Finance Director, Paul Bhim was quoted as saying that the financial status of the corporation “depicted a very grim picture, the realities for 2015 and made it clear that there will be no increases in wages and salaries for 2015.” Further, the corporation said that the current El Nino drought would result in a shortfall by 12,500 tonnes.

Chand said all that Guysuco did was presented its financial status and stated that it could not afford a pay hike for last year.

NAACIE’s President, Kenneth Joseph told Demerara Waves Online News that if Guysuco refuses to engage in collective bargaining for an across-the-board increase for last year and fringe benefits, the dispute would be taken to the Ministry of Labour for conciliation and if that fails, it would be taken to arbitration.  He ruled out engaging in another round of protracted talks with the corporation. “NAACIE has no intention of dragging this matter with them at the bilateral because it would take us right back to December (2106) and this old thing will continue,” he said.

Joseph said that unlike GAWU, NAACIE does not need to obtain agreement from Guysuco for a dispute to be taken to arbitration.