Brace for more blackouts as GPL workers go on strike for increased salaries

Last Updated on Monday, 19 December 2016, 10:54 by Denis Chabrol

Striking GPL transmission and distribution workers outside the power company’s offices on Main Street, Georgetown.

Guyanese may have to endure more blackouts for the Christmas season because transmission and distribution workers on Monday began strike action to press demands for higher salaries.

The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) could not immediately say what contingency plans are in place to deal with the possible impact of the strike on electricity supply. The industrial action comes at a time when Guyanese in the City and across the coast have been experiencing blackoits several times daily in recent days.

More than 30 GPL workers gathered outside the Main Street offices of GPL, saying  that year-long talks for an eight percent hike in their salaries.

The company is insisting on a two percent increase while the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) has negotiated downwards from 15 percent to eight percent.

NAACIE President, Kenneth Joseph told Demerara Waves Online News that the union did not call the strike, but the workers decided to walk off the job . “Whenever the workers feel to stop the strike, it is their decision. It is not a strike that the union called, it was the workers who took the matter in their own hands,” he said.

Joseph said the union was willing to negotiate even lower than the eight percent. “We are willing to negotiate even that.” The lowest paid worker earns GYD$60,000 gross.

Asked on what condition the workers would return to the job, he said it is only if GPL’s management decides to call an emergency meeting and settle the pay dispute before year-end.

Representatives of GPL and NAACIE met as late as last week.

Union representative, Ceyon Morgan said GPL’s  transmission and distribution department is the power company’s most important department. “The transmission and distribution section is the backbone of the company because any operation has to be done by the transmission and distribution workers such as when poles fall down. We are the people have to put it back in operation and power is restored,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.