By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker yesterday (December 15) called an urgent press conference at his office following the strike action by clerical and administrative staff of the Georgetown Mayor & City Council (M&CC) over the Council’s failure to pay the increase in wages and salary.
The Minister said a lot of inaccurate reports were coming from the office of the Mayor and he sought to clear up the misconceptions that were being fed to the public.
Minister Whittaker said he “would intervene” but was reluctant to discuss the method that would be used to ensure his intervention brings an end to the issue, which has left scores of vendors suffering since the strike forced the closure of all city markets, the abattoir and other municipal centers.
The Minister gave mere reassurances.
“I want to assure those vendors that we are working to bring conclusion to this matter, we can as I speak here, the Town Clerk can move to have those workers fall under GLU paid…some of these very people at the supervisory level who are required to sign onto these payment vouchers are persons who are on strike.”
He did manage to disclose that a letter was sent to City Mayor Hamilton Green, challenging him to put the needs of the citizens in Region 4 first and bring an end to the problem.
It is not clear when this intervention will take place to bring resolution to the situation and to ensure the vendors can ply their trade.
The Minister sought to lay the blame at the door of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor and defended Government appointed Town Clerk (ag), Carol Sooba.
“People who sell in the market, I hope they can understand, I hope that they can see that while we are spending money to upgrade market infrastructure, create a better environment for people to dwell…the council is working to keep vendors out of the market to deny them especially in this time an opportunity to earn,” he stressed.
“What we want to work for is to get the Council to also approve of the payment to the administrative professional staff, so that all the workers could be satisfied and happy.”
He explained that the Council does not have the interest of the vendors/stallholders at heart and spoke of their preconditioned demands to have the increases paid to the workers.
The over 250 employees who are members of the Guyana Local Government Officers Union (GLGOU) are protesting failure by the Council to pay them wage and salary increases and other allowances. On Thursday last, the Union had given the M&CC a 48-hour ultimatum threatening “appropriate industrial action.”