We are showing newcomers that everything is in order in Guyana

Dear Editor,
Immediately after the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) and the country being under the impression that elections would be held soon, social media started buzzing about the increase of minimum wages by supporters of the ruling coalition. I commented on one politician’s post that the statement is not entirely correct and amongst his reply, he pointed out that I am bitter. As I indicated before, if I am, I have all right to be. I am not one of those hypocrites that would see something wrong and not point it out. In and out of politics, that attitude has caused me a lot and I still persist in speaking out, not for me alone but for those who are afraid. Now this Administration and its supporters are boasting about the increase of minimum wages to sixty-five thousand dollars, which I agree with, but are workers getting that? No. A majority of them are not getting it and it’s this Government’s fault that people are not getting it because they should have ensured that the rules are enforced. Sales girls/boys are seemingly the largest set of workers throughout Guyana and approximately ninety per cent of them are not getting two thousand dollars a day to take home. Walk along any of these two streets, Regent or Robb; they have the most stores and workers and whilst browsing, chat with one of them and hear their story. Their working conditions, hours, facilities, duties and mainly their salaries are something to shake your head about. Most of their salaries are between two thousand dollars and two thousand five hundred dollars a day whereby for most of them, it is two thousand. I was able to verify this after I spoke to one manager of a popular store at Regent Street after I was inquiring about jobs for two Venezuelans I was accompanying. The manager was not interested in employing them and suggested that we visit the Chinese stores or stores that have items that attract the Cubans because his products are huge items and Cubans are purchasing mostly clothes and small items for shipping to their country. After a little bit of persistence, I was told that the salary is two thousand dollars per day and out of that, NIS and PAYE have to be deducted which roughly leaves you with around sixteen hundred dollars. Even with the ability to translate between English and Spanish, the salary is still the same and a requirement at some stores now. I find the salary to be insulting to the workers and with the additional knowledge to translate, they should have been given an extra stipend. For years now, this atrocious behaviour has been going on. Anyone care to rectify it?
Editor, quite recently, one Minister indicated that the Venezuelans entering Guyana should ensure that they register and get their documents sorted out so that they can pay their NIS and PAYE. Bravo for that but I wonder if the Minister is aware that many places of employment take out NIS, PAYE/Tax from people’s salary and don’t submit it. Only recently, the NIS issued notices that some companies/firms should check with them. No doubt it’s about them not paying the contributions of their staff. One security guard living near me said she has been working with a security company for three years and when she went to look after her glasses, she was informed that no contributions have been paid for the time that she has been working with the firm. Like her, there are many other places deducting money out the workers’ salaries and not paying it to the agency. Now, what could be done to remedy this situation that has been going on for as long as I can remember? No one knows how long the Venezuelans will be here for and some already chose to go back even though things are bad there and should the situation change, I am assuming most will return to their country. Now, given the actions by those who don’t like to pay people’s contributions, who will stop them from deducting money from the Venezuelans’ salaries and not pay when they know or assume that the Venezuelans will not be here to claim their contributions? Anyhow, it’s all fun and exciting to see that much interest being shown to foreigners/aliens and our own cannot be looked after. In a nutshell, the wages are low, contributions are being deducted and not being paid, rates and taxes are not being paid but we show the newcomers that everything is in order.

Sahadeo Bates