Under the torch of the sun, cleaners swarmed the Education Ministry on Brickdam, Georgetown, as they stood in unison protesting meager salaries and no payment for over a fortnight’s worth of labour.
“No money, no wuk!” “No one week pay, no two week pay!” “No lil bit money!” “September month, school gun dutty!” they chanted.
One sweeper lamented that their foremost concern is how they can continue to survive and send their children to school in September while maintaining their families on low salaries.
“We are picketing because of our salary… we want our full salary. We used to work eight hours and before school close they told us that how we gun work six hours, so right now we are at home. We worked for two weeks in July month. This month hay suh we suppose to work one week. When we push in our card (bank card) some people get $2000 and some people get $5000. Some people get none at all and that is not fair!” a protester said.
Another janitor, who is stationed at South Ruimveldt Park Primary School, relayed that they were served no notice to the effect that their salaries or time had been cut.
“It is unfair to us that we work full eight hours, now two weeks we work in July, one week in August, and I haven’t received my salary. I don’t know how I’m gonna go back to work and how my child will go to school. It is hard, so we asking the President to look into this matter. To help us, cause most of us are single parents and it ain’t easy, it very very hard,” she bemoaned.
The janitors in collective action expressed their intention to be resilient in their fight against unfavourable treatment and will continue to seek redress until justice is served.
“We ain’t giving up until we get some kind ah justice or something, ‘cause remember, we get we children to send to school,” Vanessa Braithwaite said.
Meanwhile, second Vice President of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Dawn Gardener stood in unison with the protestors at the scene and expressed her disappointment as to why the issue has not yet been addressed.
“Our expectations are that by now it would’ve been addressed, but unfortunately it has not been addressed, so we’re wondering why,” she said.
Following demonstration exercises held at the Ministry of the Presidency, the Finance Ministry and the Education Ministry’s Department of Culture, Youth and Sport, this publication reported that with no response forthcoming from Government in regard to their plight, school cleaners had taken to the streets to protest what they described as “inhumane treatment” from the authorities, while demanding that their voices be heard.
This publication was told that following the first protest, representatives from the Union and Government met briefly. However, no major decision has been taken on the issue.
First Vice President of the Guyana Public Service Union, Mortimer Livan, had declared that the demonstrations will continue until they receive a favourable response while stressing that the situation is developing further into an economic disaster for the workers and their families, many of whom are sole breadwinners of their households.