The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is arguing that the additional responsibilities being placed on the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) is affecting the timely payment of its workers.

The union in a release said that this concern was raised at a meeting yesterday when the body met with the Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman, along with the Board of Directors and Management of the GFC to discuss the Commission’s current financial situation.

The GAWU was represented by its General Secretary, Seepaul Narine; Organising Officer, Porandatt Narine; and GFC GAWU Branch Secretary, Hewley Clarke.

The union said that it brought to Trotman’s attention, “the regular delays” in the payment of salaries and other benefits. Further to that, the union noted that salary is personal property and the management has no right to delay such payments beyond the stipulated pay day.

“We also pointed out that, in recent times, the Commission has been charged with additional responsibilities. Notwithstanding the new tasks, the GAWU observed, that the GFC was not receiving any additional resources to meet its new obligations.

With regards to one such obligation, the Union referred to a large number of employees employed by the Commission who are engaged in tasks reportedly unrelated to the Commission. On that score, we urged that given the roles of the Commission in protecting a significant natural resource of our people, the State, we felt, was obligated to provide appropriate support to ensure that the Commission effectively discharges its expanded mandate,” GAWU said.

GAWU, in detailing the conclusion of its presentation, reported, “The Natural Resources Minister committed that he would take the matter to Cabinet on August 06, 2019 with a view to seek a subvention for the Commission as an immediate relief…The Minister also committed to further engagements with the Union.”

The union said that the meeting was cordial and the workers representatives of the Union’s delegation were satisfied that the Minister has listened to their woes and has a better understanding of the situation at hand.

“In the coming days, we look to the Minister following through with his commitments with a view to bringing the sad situation that has descended on the Commission and which has significantly hit the hard-working employees of the GFC.”

The meeting comes in the wake of reports earlier this year of the GFC struggling to stay afloat after racking up expenditure by more than $1B.

Minister Trotman in April of this year spoke about Cabinet approving a proposal for the restructuring of the GFC, to properly align it with government’s objective of moving towards a “green” economy.

The following month, a Task Force was established jointly between the Ministry the GFC to address the reorganising and restructuring of the commission. The Task Force’s mandate includes an examination and evaluation of current job descriptions and performance standards, personnel procedures, conditions of employment and appointment, wages and salary structures and payroll administration. It was further geared at improving the efficient performance and effective management of the commission by identifying training and development opportunities for staff.

The Task Force was assigned to examine the structure and functioning of the GFC and to make recommendations to Trotman.


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