On Friday, the General Workers’ Union protested peacefully at the Public Buildings to highlight their dissatisfaction with “the poor response by the Government towards the ever escalating cost of living.”
“The General Workers’ Union posits that it is unacceptable for citizens, including workers and peasants, to be going to bed hungry and be subjected to the indignity of abject poverty in a land of plenty.” a press release from the GWU on Friday stated.
The protest lasted for one (1) hour, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Calls were made for the Minister of Labour, Mr. Joseph Hamilton , to sign the order to bring into effect the new national minimum wage of Sixty Thousand Dollars ($60,000.00), in addition to further discussion for a revised National Minimum Wage “that is commensurate with the current cost of living.”
GWU cited a recent survey by Chartered Accountants Ram & Mc Rae that suggests that “for a family of five (5) Monthly Groceries Basket will cost a minimum of One Hundred and Seventeen Thousand, Three Hundred and Forty Dollars ($117,340.00) per month. This figure is very conservative given that the cost of many of the commodities have since risen further.”
Another call was made for the abolition of personal income tax ( Pay As You Earn). The Union argued that “The General Workers’ Union considers it unacceptable and an act of gross discrimination for EXXON Mobile and senior functionaries in the legal profession, whose salaries are more than 25 times the minimum wage in some instances; and who are more capable of paying Personal Income Tax, are exempted while the poor and the downtrodden are subjected to this brutal taxation. It must be noted that a recent court judgment ruled that this double standard is an affront to the Prevention of Discrimination n Act Ch. 99:08”
In addition, GWU said the time has come for the Restoration of the Collective Bargaining Process, Re-negotiation of the EXXON Contract, the Operationalization of Article 13 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and for government to manage the country’s natural resources properly.