Private Sector should follow Govt on pay rise – FITUG

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See full statement issued by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG):

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) recognises the recent announcement by Senior Minister within the Office of the President, Dr Ashni Singh in respect of pay rises to Government employees. Following the Minister’s announcement, we noted the comments and analysis offered by several commentators and organisations. For its part, the Federation itself has concerns with the pay rise as we take the wider situation into account and the plight of the ordinary people.

The announcement by Dr Singh came soon after an address to the nation by His Excellency President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali who reiterated his government’s commitment to improving workers pay. In that address, the President called to attention the impact the global supply chain issues were having on the local populace. While we recognise there may be little the Government can to do control these external events, we note too that President’s seeming disappointment that the measures his government took to relieve some pressures are not reaching the ordinary people. Indeed, it is saddening that despite the Government foregoing of billions of dollars to the Treasury, businesses are not transferring the intended benefit to the consuming public.

While the pay rise may not have met the expectations of some, at the same time, we are aware that in the unorganized private sector the increase is several times more than what those employers are offering to their employees. We have received information that some businesses have hardly sought to address their employees’ plight while in other cases have ignored it altogether. This comes at a time when we see increased buoyancy in the business sector and many businesses reporting record-breaking profitability and expansive plans for future investment. Undoubtedly, the COVID pandemic, from all appearances, had little impact and we congratulate the business sector on its achievement. We also cannot ignore that the successes recorded cannot and we daresay should not be delinked from the efforts of the employees of those businesses. Indeed, many businesses do not exist on their own but are supported by their employees. Undoubtedly, those employees should benefit from the successes their firms enjoy. We believe, at the very least, businesses should award their employees no lesser than a seven (7) per cent pay rise. It is our considered view that it allows private businesses to continue to attract and retain skills to sustain their operations while seeking to alleviate some of the burdens their employees are fetching currently.

As we contrast remuneration in the public and private sectors, we also cannot ignore the widening disparity between the national and public sector minimum wages. With the recent increase approved by Government, the valley between the two wages has widened to $30,700 per month. Thus, employees at the national minimum wage level must work some two (2) months before they earn what their counterparts earn in the public sector. We are aware that a few businesses pay more than the national minimum wage, but yet they are very many that are rigidly adhering to the basement pay level. At its current level, the national minimum wage is really a pauperization wage and we again, as we have several times before, urge the authorities to address in a meaningful manner the long-outstanding issue. Certainly, there is urgent need for an adjustment.