Days after the unions representing workers at the Guyana Power and Light Company served notice about planned protest action over salary increases, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Bharrat Dindyal announced today that GPL’s current financial situation makes it unable to offer or sustain any increase in salaries at this time.
During a press conference this morning, Mr. Dindyal said the company simply cannot afford any increases.
“From a business standpoint, we don’t have money to pay an increase. And typically, if in discussion with the Ministry, the Government, we come to a position where a particular increase is agreed, it has to be discussed in the context of how it’s funded. We know that 7% is offered to public servants and the expectation of the union is that they will get the 7% but is it sustainable. GPL wages are among the highest in the country”, the CEO said.
It was explained that there is no breakdown in talks with the unions, but discussions are ongoing for a collective labour agreement. The GPL Chief Executive Officer said the issue of remuneration has always been a contentious sticking point in the discussions which have been ongoing for the past three years.
“We can’t afford anything, nothing at all. By the end of this year, our deficit will be about $2.6 Billion. So whatever we pay, will have to be borrowed”, Dindyal said.
He said the company has not been receiving a subsidy from the government and has been running on overdraft to ensure there is fuel to supply power.
The Power Company CEO said the company has put no offer on the table during the negotiations since it cannot afford any increases. Questioned about the possibility of an end of year bonus, Mr. Dindyal said there has been no discussion about that.
In a letter sent to the CEO earlier this week, the workers union, NAACIE said it is prepared to enter into an agreement regarding the 7% across the board, in-scale increases, without delay, given that other sectors and workers are going to receive their increases in time for the Christmas holidays.
NAACIE said its members at GPL are highly agitated and the company should seek to reach an agreement with the union soon, as there is a possibility of strike action.