Workers of this country must not be taken advantage of

Dear Editor,
The Guyana Postal and Telecommunication Workers’ Union (GPTWU) which represents non-management workers within the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT+) continues to be very perturbed with the actions of the management of the company in relation to the continuous violations of the extant Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) between the parties. GTT+, over time, has hired approximately seventy-two Customer Service Representatives within its Call Centre, each on a nine-month contract. This is the largest concentration of contract employees within the company. The Call Centre Division falls within the Union’s Bargaining Unit.
The CLA clearly states at Article Number 36:1, “Contract work shall be held to a minimum and the Company agrees there shall be no contract work allocated to outside contractors which would result in interference with the employment or promotion of permanent employees”.
This practice by GTT+ is clearly designed to trample on the rights of the workers. These workers are continuously employed on a contractual basis without any effort on the part of management for confirmation. They are not represented by the Union since they are contract employees. The Union has been engaging the Department of Labour in an effort to have the contracted workers brought on permanently to the establishment, but to date, the Department of Labour has failed to deal with the issue in a decisive manner. As a result, the Company is emboldened and continues with this violation. Management continues to show gross disrespect to the Ministry by not providing documentation requested by the Department, in addition to not showing up for conciliation meetings, called by the said Department.
The contract employees, whose contract are in total breach of the law are forced to accept the following: –
> Monthly salary, which is way below what is being paid to permanent employees who are performing duties at the same level across the company.
> They are not on the company’s Pension or Group Life Scheme, even though many of them have been working with GTT+ for a number of years.
> They are dismissed without due process being allowed.
Those are just some of the infractions that are meted out to these workers without any intervention by the Department of Labour, even though they are aware of all the issues.
The status of these workers needs to be regularised. There can be no other position on this issue. The Department of Labour must be effective in its mandate by addressing this issue.
Just recently, the world saw how the matter involving Rusal and GB&GWU was handled. The Department of Labour must not appear to be selective and/or naive when dealing with the multinationals.
The Department of Labour is aware of all the illegalities and infractions being perpetuated by GTT+ but continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of the workers. This violation among others shall be made public and the company must be made to respect the law.
This Union will continue to expose the continued arrogance being displayed by GTT+. This issue of the large influx of contract workers was raised with the Ministry of Labour, now the Department of Labour, over the years.
The membership is calling on the Minister within the Social Protection Ministry with responsibility for Labour, Honourable Keith Scott to address the issues with the authority vested in him at the soonest.
Workers of this country must not be taken advantage of.

Harold Shepherd