Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
President Irfaan Ali, using the Enmore Martyrs’ observance event last Thursday, announced the Cabinet has approved increasing the nation’s statutory minimum wage to $60,000.00 per month. The present minimum wage is $44,000 per month. Ali’s announcement came after several calls from the trade union movement-the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and the government-aligned, Federation of Independent Trades Union of Guyana- and the Opposition, A Partnership For National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC). A date for implementation is still to be announced.
On June 3, President Ali, when questioned by another media house about the status of the wage increase, informed that Cabinet was awaiting a holistic paper from Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton, who was asked to engage in wide consultation to bring together the views of everyone on board. The President also made known his deference to the opinion of the private sector, informing that, “You know the private sector has views on this issue.” A similar bias was expressed by 2020 when he addressed increase wages and salary for public servants
Whether from June 3 to June 16 when President Ali announced Cabinet’s approval of the increase any consultation was done and a paper presented to Cabinet, these were not made public by Minister Hamilton or the Department of Public Information.
The $60,000 increase was first approved in 2018 by the Tripartite Committee (representative of Government, Labour and Employer) under Minister Keith Scott, during the APNU+AFC Government. Village Voice understands the implementation was frustrated by efforts from sections of the Private Sector. When the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) entered government in August 2020 President Ali subsequently announced the approved $60,000 will not be implemented immediately, acquiescing to a request from the Private Sector. In January 2022 a Committee, set up under the PPP/C government, reinforced the payment of the $60,000.
Veteran trade unionist and General Secretary, GTUC, Lincoln Lewis, in an interview with Village Voice said while he is encouraged the government is likely to move to implement the increase, he would prefer to wait and see. Lewis said it is important for it to be made known that this is not a Private Sector minimum wage, but the statutory National Minimum Wage which will impact the private sector, who will not be able to pay wages below $60,000. He further stated the majority of workers in the public sector to benefit from the increase are some employed by the Guyana Sugar Corporation.
Another veteran trade unionist, Norris Witter, President of the General Workers Union is guardedly optimistic about the proposed implementation. He is calling for the government to prove its commitment by having Minister Hamilton sign the necessary orders and have them gazette. Witter has also called for the National Minimum Wage to be increased to $88,000 per month given the current economic environment. The GTUC in its proposal on the 2022 National Budget, via letter sent to President Ali, has asked for the minimum wage in the public service to be increased to $120,000 per month.