The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) has branded Tuesday’s protest action, which had the support of the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), as entirely unnecessary.
In a statement on Wednesday, GPL explained that it made proposals to NACCIE in 2020 for a three-year Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) that would cover from 2020 to 2022. The proposal had included a restricted Performance Based Incentive that would have positively impacted the annual salary increases.
“NAACIE submitted its counter proposal to GPL in September 2020, and negotiations commenced in September 2020 and continued into October 2020. These sessions resulted in the mutual agreement of a number of clauses that did not include the Across-the-Board and Performance Incentive Award Clauses.
“In March 2021, NAACIE submitted a revised proposal, which would result in a significant increase in salaries of fifteen, seventeen and nineteen percent respectively over the three-year period,” GPL explained.
According to GPL, negotiations resumed in March 2021, and there was mutual agreement on 66 clauses and disagreement on only two clauses: Across-the-Board increases and the Performance Based Incentive. GPL explained that these two clauses, if included, would have negatively impacted the state company’s finances.
“In December 2020, the Company paid all staff $25,000, despite its financial position that has been negatively impacted by the unprecedented and protracted COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic contributed to a significant and unbudgeted expenditure that was necessary to ensure the company’s continued operation,” GPL explained.
“During the first quarter of 2021, the world market fuel prices per barrel exceeded GPL’s 2021 budgeted prices by approximately 50 percent. Should prices remain at this level, the Company will incur additional and unbudgeted expenditure of approximately $6 billion.”
GPL noted that despite this financial challenge, the company still remains committed to amicably resolving the differences between itself and NAACIE. It therefore urged the union to embrace a responsible position on the issue.
Additionally, GPL denied that a 12 per cent increase in basic salaries was given to the company’s Executive Directors, as well as some of the other claims that have been made against the state-owned entity.
“On the matter of the acquisition of two vehicles for GPL’s Divisional Directors, GPL wishes to categorically state that these vehicles were acquired through a National Competitive Bidding Process. Five bids were received and were comprehensively evaluated in accordance with the Company’s Procurement Manual.
“The tender was awarded to the lowest evaluated bidder. For clarity, these vehicles, which are the property of the Company, are utilised by the Executive Directors in the execution of their duties. GPL deems the ‘protest action’ by the Union as unnecessary, and remains committed to amicably resolving the existing differences through negotiations.”
The protest took place on Main Street, Georgetown, with several workers who claimed that while they had not received any increase since 2020, the company was engaged in buying vehicles. NAACIE General Secretary Dawchan Nagasar had claimed that the protest was sparked by GPL’s delayed response to a salary increase request put forward by the Union. (G3)