Bosai workers protest for salary increases

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A number of employees attached to the Bosai Minerals Group Guyana Incorporated downed tools on Thursday over what they described as “unsatisfactory” across-the-board wage and salary increases.

The employees claim the company had agreed to pay a 5.5 percent increase, which is a decrease from last year, which saw them taking home 6.5 percent. The employees have dubbed the move as unfair, calling for between 8.5 and 10 percent increase.

“We are out here today to strike over our wages and salaries’ increases. Management has made a decision that they’re not going to move from the present position they’re at, which is 5.5 percent for this year…workers think that is unfair, because, right through, we would have worked during the pandemic. So, we were looking for 10 percent, but management decided they’re going to give us 5.5 percent,” an employee noted, as he stood outside the compound of the company’s northern gate holding a placard.

According to the employee, the decision to decrease the percentage of wage increase this year is unfair, more so since the cost of living in the country has skyrocketed.

“The cost of living gone up 14 per cent. We’re asking for 10 percent because we would have worked very hard…because Bosai never shut down during the pandemic. We worked every day, once we’re scheduled to work. It’s unfair for management to make a rash decision like this, and not moving from where they are”, he continued.

The protestor added that while employees are also seeking improvements on allowances, the company usually would not make any major adjustments in that regard.

Another employee, Cecil Boston, related that the workers are only willing to settle for an increase of between 7.5 and 8.5 percent, in addition to other benefits which are presently on the negotiation table.

“We work under strenuous conditions…hazardous conditions, especially when we have to work night shift. We work for 12 hours, sometimes 14 hours…working under these conditions for the amount of money that we’re receiving now is totally ridiculous…the price for everything is going up, but your money is not going up… Collectively, overall, we need our expectations to be met…5.5 percent still not good enough,” he stressed.

Protesting employee Colin Adams also shared similar sentiments.

“The situation is a bad situation…At the moment, we’re at 5.5 percent for this year and 6.5 percent for next year…we’re asking for 10 percent this year and 10 percent next year. If we can’t get that, 8.5 is the lowest we’re going”, he said.

Adams related that those negotiations commenced since April 1, and there has been back-and-forth since then.

“The company start at zero percent and the Union start at 20 percent. Yesterday (Wednesday) was the last meeting, and it was at 5.5 and 6.5 percent respectively for this year and next year, but the Union is at 10 percent this year and 10 percent next year”, he said.

He admitted, however, that employees were not confident at securing a 10 percent increase, but would settle for 8.5 percent.

“We’re not confident about getting 10 percent, being realistic, but we still have to fight…at least we want something better than 5.5 percent”.

Employees are also seeking allowances such as night premium, snack benefits, out-of-town allowances, leave allowances, and improved working conditions such as more secure employment benefits for contract workers and improved working equipment and tools, among other things.

The workers’ union and company representatives met for discussions at the company’s Mackenzie, Linden location during Thursday’s protest.