Banks DIH signs off on new salary package for employees
…as Govt to wrap up enforcement of Private Sector minimum wage
As the conversation on Private Sector salaries brews, local beverage giant Banks DIH Limited has settled the matter of new wages and benefits for its employees.
On Wednesday, the beverage company said it signed a new three-year Memorandum of Agreement with the General Workers Union (GWU), paving the way for new wages as well as other benefits for employees of the company.
The agreement was signed on Wednesday in the Boardroom of the Labour Ministry, and proceedings were witnessed by Chief Labour Officer Dhaneshwar Deonarine. Based on the new arrangement, employees will now receive an initial nine per cent across-the-board increase for the first year, and five and three per cent respectively during the additional two years of the three-year pact.
Andrew Carto, Human Resources Director of Banks DIH Limited, who signed on behalf of the company, expressed gratitude to the Union for the cordial and professional way in which the negotiations were conducted over a three-week period.
“I am happy to say that we were able to arrive at a consensus where we now have a new three-year agreement which highlights the increases, benefits and allowances which would be applicable to employees of the company for the next three years,” Carto expressed.
The General Workers Union was represented by General Secretary Pancham Singh, who said the Union is pleased with the agreement reached.
“The negotiations were done virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and both parties showed mutual respect during the consultations. We have a very long and cordial relationship with the Company, and we would like to maintain that affiliation,” he added.
Chief Labour Officer Dhaneshwar Deonarine has commended both parties for negotiating an amicable agreement.
This settlement comes on the heels of Government announcing last week a seven per cent retroactive increase for all Public Servants, which has sparked conversation on wage and salary increases in the Private Sector.
Shortly after taking office last year, Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton disclosed that he would be issuing an order to increase the Private Sector minimum wage from $44,200 to $60,000 per month. However, while an order to this effect was made, there was no timeline for its enforcement. In fact, this was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on businesses.
Minister Hamilton has, however, reassured Guyana Times that his Ministry is working closely with the various Private Sector bodies to achieve a better minimum wage for workers.
“Everybody agreed that the present minimum wage must be increased. What we have not conclusively dealt with is the timing of the order issued by the Minister to bring that into effect. So that is where we at,” he stated.
According to Minister Hamilton, only last week he asked the CLO to convene a meeting with the National Tripartite Committee to “discuss this matter and bring it to a conclusion.”
The Tripartite Committee consists of the Labour Ministry, the Private Sector and the Union.
“I have had, and I’ve been having, continuous conversation with the Private Sector. When I came here, the Private Sector raised the issue of the intervention of COVID, and therefore that was a fundamental issue in the conversation within the Tripartite Committee. The union reps of course [were] saying, ‘Sign the order now’ and the Private Sector is saying, ‘Give us some time to revive’ from the pandemic,” he explained.
However, the Labour Minister noted that Government has to be cognisant of both arguments that are being proffered. “The worst thing I could do, or the Government (could do), is to have the minimum wages willy-nilly increased and then a small entity that had 30 employees, they had to send home 10… So we have to be mindful, we have to be careful that that doesn’t happen,” the Minister posited.
But it has now been a year, and the country has been on the path to recovery from the pandemic, so Minister Hamilton will be re-engaging the Private Sector on enforcing these increases. That meeting of the Tripartite Committee could be held as early as next week.
The Tripartite Committee was set up under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) regime to review increasing the Private Sector’s minimum wage. The committee had recommended an increase to $60,000 from the current $44,200 per month.
In January 2017, the Private Sector’s minimum wage was increased from an hourly rate of $202 to $255, taking the monthly wage from $35,000 to $44,200. The Public Sector minimum wage currently stands at $70,000.
Currently, only approximately 10 per cent of Private Sector employees are paid minimum wage, with the remaining vast majority receiving above this pay grade. (G8)