FITUG, GTUC differ on minimum monthly salary

Last Updated on Monday, 2 May 2022, 12:16 by Denis Chabrol

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) is  backing a call for the country’s minimum salary to be GY$60,000 but the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has been hearing that that figure is no longer sufficient and should instead be doubled due to rising cost of living.

Recalling that two years ago, it had been publicly stated that a minimum salary of less than GY$45,000 was no longer sufficient, FITUG President Carville Duncan on Sunday- Labour Day- said nothing was stopping employers from paying GY$60,000 monthly. At the same time, he called on the government to make that figure law.

“I, Mr. Chairman, am pleading for those workers- some of them are members of a trade union that are part of this federation- that something be done to make the $60,000 a reality, knowing that the real wages of these workers cannot sustain themselves and families,” he said. while Mr. Duncan praised the Minister of Agriculture for contributing to a reduction in the prices of most vegetables now compared to one month ago, he said other basic consumer items are costing more. “On the other hand, Sir, cost of living is still increasing by virtue of the fact that all of the prices in the supermarket have been escalating. The only thing that remains static is the minimum wage,” said Mr. Duncan.

The General Workers Union (GWU), which is not a FITUG affiliate, has been publicly protesting for the minimum wage to be increased in keeping with a decision of the Tripartite Committee. Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton had said that the matter was still before Cabinet.

Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram told a GTUC rally on Sunday that a GY$60,000 minimum salary was no longer feasible due to the rise in cost of living as a family of five, including parents and three children, need a minimum of GY$120,000. “Let us not fall for $60,000. $60,000 was good three years ago,” he said. Mr. Ram noted that by the end of 2022, Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product of over 200 percent. but the minimum wage of US$200 per a month  amounted to a “disgrace in a country that boasts that we have the fastest growing economy in the world.”

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, in his remarks, reiterated his promise to abolish personal income tax for “poor workers” and recalculate the cost of a basket of goods with the aim of paying more now that the company was earning large amounts of money from the sale of its crude oil entitlements. ”

Official figures show that since Guyana first began oil production in 2019 to date, earnings amount to US$740 million including royalties.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has cautioned against spending the bulk of the oil revenues on wages and salaries, but improve physical infrastructure and install low-cost natural gas and hydro electricity plants to make manufacturing competitive as part of preparations for a future after all the oil is extracted.