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The plan by the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) to dismiss a percentage of its employees attached to its Garden of Eden Asphalt Plant over high employment cost is a major cause for concern, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) said on Thursday.
In response to concerns by a team of high-level investigators that overtime accounts for approximately 19 per cent of the Asphalt Plant’s employment cost, it was disclosed, by management, that several workers will be made redundant.
“With the operation of the new Asphalt Plant, there will be a review of the existing employment requirement whereby staff will become redundant,” the Management of the DHBC told the team of investigators led by Chartered Accountant, Chateram Ramdihal.
Based on the report compiled by Ramdihal and team, the Asphalt Plant’s employment cost for a period of five years (2015-2019) amounted to $92.4M, however, 20.99 per cent of that or $19.3M accounted for overtime.
It was recommended that the management of the plant should ensure that the employment cost is kept at its lowest by considering a shift system or additional employees, however, it was noted that workers would be made redundant.
“An analysis of the overtime information shows that most of the overtime generated is based on weekend work which at the request from the Ministry. Hence a shift system will not be appropriate in these situations,” the plant’s management said in response to the concerns raised by the investigators.
But GAWU, the bargaining agent of workers employed by the DHBC, said it is most concerned about the findings and plants to dismiss workers.
“We noticed that the Management indicated at page twenty-five (25) of the report that it intends to make some workers redundant arising from the commissioning of the new asphalt plant. This is the first time the Union and the workers have heard of such intentions and we have since written to the DHBC on the matter. We have reminded the Corporation there are certain obligations it has in this regard and have sought an engagement to get greater clarity,” GAWU said in a statement.
It also expressed concern over the management of the Plant. “We are conscious of the level of revenues the plant accrues and thus an absence of proper controls is disturbing, to say the least,” the Union said.
It said while the management of the Plant has been in the business of buying itself exquisite gifts, workers were denied improved conditions.
“For the GAWU, what is disturbing is that the workers and Union are told, on more than one occasion, that requests for improvements in conditions-of-work cannot be met. Though, at the same time it appears, there is high-priced gift giving,” GAWU said.
The Union said it is looking forward to the implementation of the recommendations emanating from the report.
Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill had ordered the investigation into the operations of the Asphalt Plant in response to widespread allegations of corruptions. The report was handed over to the subject minister on Wednesday by the Chartered Accountant and team.