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Post Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:00 pm

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…as arbitration tribunal presents reportBy Zena Henry Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) workers, who went on strike earlier this year, yesterday felt vindicated in their claims that the company had not upheld the signed 2001 collective bargaining agreement.Chairman of the designated arbitration tribunal, Justice Prem Persaud, yesterday handed over the related report to Labour Minister Nanda Gopaul, in which it was indicated that increases of 6 percent and 5.5 percent retroactive to January 2012, would be paid to employees in the categories from grade one to eight.Labour Minister Nanda GopaulDisgruntled GPL staffers had taken to the streets countrywide to express their dissatisfaction with earlier developments, with the power company at that time having offered a 5 percent increase across the board.The National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), through strike action, had wanted GPL to honour its 2001 collective bargaining agreement which called for negotiations for increase in salaries, outside of an automatic three percent increment on the salaries of workers annually, and a performance-based incentive of between zero and 10 percent.NAACIE General Secretary Kenneth Joseph said yesterday that the union’s contention was not particularly for the workers’ payment, but was really for the electricity company to honour the agreement.“We have been vindicated, the (2001) agreement continues to exist. The company was saying that the agreement ended in 2003, but at the moment that agreement continues to exist, and will exist until it is superseded by another agreement.”Minister Gopaul asserted that he was pleased with the “expeditious manner” in which the matter was dealt with, and hoped that, “both sides would take heed of the recommendations made in the report”. He also emphasised that the report is binding on both parties.Gopaul however noted that it was very unfortunate that the workers had to resort to industrial action over what seemed to be a situation of distrust.“In a collective agreement, not everything can be spelt out, but it is the spirit in which the agreement is entered into, and the interpretation when it was given…if done based on that spirit…we would have not had the strike.”The Minister further urged the parties not to resort to strike action, but to use the services of the Labour Ministry. He said that though strikes may at times be inevitable, they must seek to reduce them.Following the handing over of the report, Joseph thanked those involved in the arbitration process for, “helping to bring about a favourable understanding about the process of arbitration.” He said that the union was afraid that the process had been eroded.“It is never favourable when trade unions have to use large sums of money and workers are losing out on money to fight for their rights.”Joseph subsequently suggested that for the days the workers had protested, now that their cause had been justified, they should be paid for the days lost.Justice Prem PersaudHe continued that at present, GPL workers are concerned with what is taking place in Parliament, especially as it relates to cuts made to this year’s budget, which brings concerns of an attempt by the electricity company to further release unionized staff.Joseph said that the union is looking for a proper relationship with GPL and proper management of the company.  He further called for an investigation into the operations of the company before the budget cuts are returned.“They should not just give you and you spend. There must be an investigation because we know… we have evidence that not all the money is well spent.” Joseph concluded that the union looks forward to instructions for the workers to be paid.GPL’s Deputy CEO Aeshwar Deonarine said that the company would be honouring the arbitration’s decision.“In any ruling, one cannot expect both sides to be very pleased, but the company respects the arbitration’s objective and impartial decision, and as always we stand committed to honour any agreement we have.”He highlighted the party’s current position as being unfortunate, when the evidence could have been evaluated and a similar if not identical resolution could have resulted.In February,cheap nfl jerseys sale, GPL workers downed tools over a five percent all-inclusive package. This involved a one percent across the board pay increase that was rejected by the Union, which had demanded an eight percent across the board increase.GPL was however adamant that it could not even afford the five percent package offered, much less the eight percent that was being demanded. The company blamed this inability on high fuel price among other things.After six days of strike action, when the two parties could not resolve their differences, the Labour Minister stepped in. He called on the tribunal comprising Justice Prem Persaud; Dr. Gobind Ganga, Deputy Governor of Bank of Guyana; and Grantley Culbard, former General Secretary of Clerical and Commercial Workers’ Union to deal with the issue, which resulted in yesterday’s report.

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