Sol Guyana workers to get 24% pay hike this year

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… as oil company inks new labour agreement with General Workers Union

Unionised workers at Sol Guyana Inc will this year receive a 24% increase in salaries among other benefits, the General Workers’ Union (GWU) announced as it signed a new Memorandum of Agreement with the petroleum giant covering a period of two years.

GWU and Sol Guyana Inc signed the agreement at the Ministry of Labour on Friday (February 25) in the presence of the Chief Labour Officer Dhaneshwar Deonarine. It paves the way for a new wage package and other benefits inclusive of a 24% increase in salaries for 2022 with effect from January 1; a 5% increase for 2023 and an increase in the company’s minimum wage to $130,000 per month in 2022, and a further increase of $6,000 in 2023, thereby pushing the overall minimum wage to $136,000 per month.

Additionally, meal allowances have been increased – $1,300 for breakfast and $1,400 for dinner with effect from this year. Those allowances will be further increased in 2023 with breakfast moving to $1,430 and dinner $1,540.

Sol Guyana General Manager Earl Carribon; Guyana General Workers’ Union President Norris Witter, Chief Labour Officer (CLO) Dhaneshwar Deonarine holding copies of the new Memorandum of Agreement along with other representatives of the union and petroleum company

Ahead of signing the agreement, President of the General Workers’ Union (GWU), Norris Witter, who was among the signatories, commended the Management of Sol Guyana for engaging in very cordial and respectful bilateral meetings, which concluded after less than three weeks, and utilizing a total of about eight (8) working hours.

“The management’s attitude towards the negotiation was respectful, positive and mature; and as a consequence the appropriate and most conducive environment prevailed for the speedy conclusion of those discussions,” Witter told those present.

According to the GWU President, embedded in the agreement are landmark achievements such as the 24% increase in salaries for workers for 2022 and the company’s minimum wage for workers per month.

It was explained that the 5% increase in salaries for 2023 will be indexed to the cost of living and the inflation rate as at December 31, 2022. “So if the inflation rate exceeds 5% at the end of 2022, the parties will reengage and review that 5% increase,” he explained.

Witter submitted that the new wage scales, in many respects, are unmatched. The union was keen on pointing out that the SOL Guyana employee’s minimum wage for 2022 is equivalent to 258.5% or more than two and one half (2 ½) times the minimum rate at the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).

“GuySuCo’s minimum wage is $50,300.00 per month,” GWU pointed out while adding that “Sol Guyana Inc. employee’s minimum wage is also 294.1% or approximately 3 times the national minimum wage…[which] is currently at a ridiculous $44,200 per month.”

It was also noted that the company’s minimum wage is also 173.5% or 1.7 times the Public Service minimum wage which is currently at $74,900.

Witter said the increases demonstrate not only the effort of the union in securing reasonable salaries and benefits for the workers but also the company’s commitment to the development and wellbeing of its human resource.

Sol Guyana General Manager Earl Carribon, who signed the agreement on behalf of the company, also spoke highly of the negotiating teams and the smooth process that resulted in an early conclusion of the negotiation, and a successful agreement.

“The end result of this process is really a reflection of Sol’s and Parkland’s overall approach to our employees,” Carribon said while adding “we do see our staff as our most important resource. You can have the best trucks, the best storage tanks…but if you don’t have competent and happy people, satisfied staff, energized staff working for you, you are not going to have a very successful business operation.”

It was noted that while the agreement covers unionized workers within the company, the non-unionized workers in 2021 benefited from a 10% increase in salaries and will receive an additional 10% increase from March 1, 2022.

He said the company is about equity and fairness, and as such facilitated the increases to allow for a level playing field. Carribon was accompanied by the company’s Human Resources Manager Hollis Mingo while the GWU President was accompanied by other union representatives.

The Chief Labour Officer, in offering brief remarks, applauded the two sides for concluding a very successful agreement within a short period of time. “That’s the type of negotiating culture we try to promote at the Ministry of Labour where we want to see that negotiations are done in good faith and ultimately concluded…within a short period and of course with agreeability with regards to work, wages and salaries,” the CLO said.

He said too underscored the importance of human resource to the company, and by extension the country.

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