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Workers may not be paid for Christmas

January 12, 2020

first_imgCity Hall financial woes…as council scrambles to avoid embarrassment…Oscar Clarke suggests laying off workersWorkers attached to the Mayor & Councillors of the City of Georgetown (M&CC) are keeping their fingers crossed in hope of being paid before the Christmas holiday, as the Municipality’s administration battles to scrape funds to make the payroll.FLASHBACK: Workers protesting in front of City HallOn Monday a circular was sent to all Heads of Department, informing them that wages and salaries would be paid late for the month of December. However, the late payment of wages and salaries has, over the years, become a norm for the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown, and would precipitate quite a spectacle, as the workers would usually picket the administration.The workers were out on Regent Street, Georgetown last November, protesting for the payment of their wages and salaries while Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and Town Clerk Royston King were in China.On Monday, during a telephone interview, Chase-Green informed Guyana Times that it is customary to inform the departmental heads of the late payment of wages and salaries, so they can inform the staff members. The mayor said she had met with the administrative staff and assured them that they would be paid before the holidays.“We are expected to start making payments before the week is ended, and we are hopeful to finish those payments before the holiday,” Chase-Green said.Downsizing workforceAt an Extraordinary Statutory Meeting on November 14, Chairman of the Finance Committee, Oscar Clarke, suggested that the municipality consider downsizing the number of staff members, since salaries account for 68 per cent of the council’s revenue.Clarke disclosed that at the start of 2017, it was agreed that workers would be paid between the 25th and 27th of every month, and would be given a multi-year salary increase from 2016 to 2018. However, the council was unable to meet its obligation last month due to lack of funds.The chairman suggested that as the New Year approaches, the Council should begin looking to reduce its 800-member staff complement. He noted that the current financial state would remain unchanged if the council continues to pay 68 percent of its revenue for staffing. He noted that the Mayor and City Council would have to undertake a review of the entire staff structure in 2018, and this has been communicated to the union. He added that the workers of the council are paid higher rates than those in the public service.“We will have to discuss with them (union) the way forward in terms of reducing the number of people we have on staff… It’s not that we don’t think the council needs the workers; the council needs the workers, but the council got to get money to pay the workers…I can make reference to a couple of positions; for example, an Office Assistant here gets $74,000 per month, the Government pays about $60,000 now…Clerk 2 General is $90,266 per month, the accountant gets $184, 966, as opposed to what the accountant in the public service gets — maybe $109/$110,000,” he informed.In addition to high salaries, Clarke told the councillors that City Hall has about 260 pensioners, and that number is rapidly increasing, since every year workers are going into retirement.However, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green has said the City is not in the habit of putting families on the breadline, and a number of councillors agreed with her.To cover salaries for the November-December period, City Hall has offered defaulting taxpayers the option of amnesty in hope of them paying their arrears taxes.Meanwhile, contradicting the Mayor, acting Treasurer, John Douglas said that the Council has commenced payments to all staff and will complete the process by Wednesday.For quite a while now, the Mayor & City Council (M&CC) has been deemed cash strapped; and on multiple occasions, work around the city has had to be halted, since the Municipality was unable to pay workers.The City’s major garbage contractors, Cevons Waste Disposal and Puran Bros Disposal Service, were forced to withdraw their services after the administration was unable to pay them more than $300 million that they were owed. This resulted in Cevons laying off a number of its employees and Central Government stepping in to pick up the more than $300 million tab.In the face of this, employees continue to protest over the non-payment of their salaries, but that does not deter Mayor Chase-Green and Town Clerk Royston King from making regular overseas trips to attend various conferences. The duo have been heavily criticized by concerned citizens.last_img

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