– in new Collective Labour Agreement
By Tamica Garnett
PATERNITY leave and the introduction of pension and medical schemes are some of the new arrangements that staff of the Guyana Public Service Cooperative Credit Union (GPSCCU) will benefit from following the signing of a new Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) between the organisation’s management and the Clerical and Commercial Workers Union (CCWU).
The new CLA, which will run for a period of two years, was signed on Wednesday in the boardroom of the Department of Labour (DoL), on Brickdam, Georgetown.
The new agreement replaces an aged CLA that was last signed in 1978, and came about following much deliberation between CCWU and the Interim Management Committee (IMC) that was installed 18 months ago to oversee administration at the GPSCCU.
The GPSCCU will now be one of only two organisations in the country that offers paternity leave, something that was last year recommended in a report by the Women and Gender Equality Commission.
Head of the IMC, Trevor Benn explained that the paternity leave will be granted for one month, and be paid for by the company, pending certain criteria.
“For me, the icing on the cake is the introduction of the paternity leave,” Benn said. “We’ve made it clear that the paternity leave is meant for those persons in a stable relationship with one partner, and has taken responsibility for the offspring,” he added.
The staff will also be required to give prior notice of their partner expecting, and subsequently produce copies of the child’s birth certificate, showing that they are recorded as the infant’s father.
Equivalent to maternity leave, which is given to mothers on the birth of a child, paternity leave is leave granted to the father of an infant. In Guyana, maternity leave, which lasts for 91 days, is catered for by law, with payments made by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). However, there are stipulations for paternity leave.
Of the 32 staff members at the GPSCCU, approximately eight are men. Benn said it was something that the staff members lobbied for after seeing it was implemented in other countries.
Chief Labour Officer Charles Ogle described the agreement as “a very comprehensive” one.
“Very few are so comprehensive,” he said, adding: “What is good to note is that the Department of Labour did not have to intervene, which augured well for the Union and management.”
CCWU General President, Sherwood Clarke, noted his approval of the CLA.
“We had a collaborative effort making this a reality, and I think the staff will be satisfied,” Clarke said. “I want to continue the great relationship between the CCWU and management,” he added.
Aside from Clarke signing the agreement on behalf of CCWU were Senior Vice-President Kim Halley, and Branch Representative Paul Clarke (no relation to Sherwood).
Clarke applauded the cooperation between the CCWU and management, and commended the continuous effort made by the IMC to deal with staff issues since its appointment, including dealing with gratuity and working conditions at the GPSCCU building.
Benn related that when the IMC took over, there were several unsatisfactory conditions under which the staff was suffering.
“As we began to look at the gamut of our work,” he said, “we were horrified to know that our staff was working under less than humane conditions. The salary was pitiful; the conditions in the building were pitiful, and the morale was very low. Immediately we looked at ensuring that there were across-the-board increases in gratuity.” And back then, only a few persons were benefitting from gratuity,” Benn explained.
The gratuity will now be disbanded with the introduction of the pension scheme at the organisation.
“Staff were going off and didn’t know what they were entitled to. With this new CLA with pension, staff will now know with certainty what they can expect at the end of their work life,” Benn noted.
Aside from gratuity, Benn noted the IMC also immediately sought to improve the physical working conditions of the building. He noted that this benefits not only the staff but members of the Union as well.
“The building is old, but inside has been modernised to ensure that the working conditions for the staff have reached certain standards to improve the conditions to receive our customers and members. We have arranged services to ensure our members don’t have to spend a lot of time in the building,” he said.
Benn noted that while the IMC has done a lot over the past 18 months for both the staff and members, there remains a lot more that the IMC is looking to get done in the coming months.
The IMC was installed in May 2018, at a time when allegations arose about mismanagement of the Union by the previous management committee.