Employees of the state-owned Guyana Chronicle have indicated to the board of the company that they will proceed on strike action if they are not paid a $50,000 bonus to match the bonus handed out by government to public servants earning less than $500,000 per month.
Following the announcement of the bonus for public servants by the government earlier this week, Chronicle workers thought that they too had qualified for the payout. But that thought was cut short when they received their salaries earlier this week and realised that the only extra money they got represented a 5% bonus retroactive to January 2015.
At a Thursday afternoon meeting with Board members and the Chronicle staff, it was explained to the workers that while the Guyana Chronicle is a public owned company, it is not a government agency and therefore, it does not qualify as a semi autonomous agency.
The workers believe that since they have not been paid increases for a long period, then the company should pay them the $50,000 bonus. But the board explained that the company is not currently in a financial position to afford such a payout.
News Source understands that the workers then pointed out to the Board members that the company’s management should get the Prime Minister, who holds the Public Information portfolio, to instruct the Government Information Agency (GINA) to begin paying its $70 Million bill to the newspaper.
One senior staffer explained to News Source that the Prime Minister overlooks the work of GINA and therefore it should be no major issue to get GINA to start paying its bill. GINA ran up the $70 Million bill in the placement of advertisements in the Chronicle under the previous government.
The staffer said if GINA were to make a first payment of $5 Million, that should be able to cover the bonus payments for the Chronicle employees.
When contacted this afternoon, Director of Public Information, Imran Khan, who also sits on the Board of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited, said the company is currently looking to see if it could afford the $50,000 bonus for all staffers.
Khan explained to News Source that with the 5% bonus, some staffers would have been paid more than a $50,000 bonus and he does not believe that they have a case. He said that those who may not have gotten a $50,000 bonus when their 5% retroactive bonus was accumulated, might more have a case to bring their bonus up to $50,000.
He said the company is seeking to see how best it could deal with the situation. Mr. Khan also told News Source that the Board is already preparing a proposal for a salary increase for all staffers and that increase is expected to take effect from January.
Just two weeks ago, the Guyana Chronicle launched its new look as part of a major rebranding initiative. That launch came just days after the Board of the newspaper fired its General Manager Michael Gordon and also sent Editor, Mark Ramotar packing.