-as gov’t announces new minimum wage of $70,000
SWEEPER-cleaners, in the public education system, will get better remuneration starting December, as Government announced that those workers will benefit from the new minimum wage of $70,000.
Public servants’ minimum wage will be increased to $70,000 from $64,220 per month. This represents a nine per cent increase for 2019 and an overall increase of 77 per cent since the APNU+AFC Coalition Government entered office in 2015, when the minimum wage stood at $39,540.
“Sweeper-cleaners in the Public Education System will now receive the new minimum wage of $70,000,” said President David Granger, in his address to the Nation, on Wednesday.
For years, sweeper-cleaners, in the public education system, have called for ‘better pay” because they felt that they were underpaid for the work they did throughout the year. The news of the new benefit was well received by sweeper-cleaners, who did not hesitate to say how the increase would benefit them.
The Guyana Chronicle was able to gain an on-the-ground insight on how the salary increase would benefit persons who earn a minimum wage. One sweeper-cleaner, Marcia France, said the increase will be beneficial to her household so she was grateful to the government for making sure that the workers got what they deserved.
Another sweeper-cleaner, who spoke in anonymity, said she was overjoyed by the announcement of the increase because it will do a lot for her at home. “It’s a really nice initiative, knowing that after all these years, you’ve been going and then finally you get something good. I think it’s really nice,” said the sweeper-cleaner, adding that the increase will give her the opportunity to save money for rainy days.
Since before 2013, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has been pleading with the government to regularise the emoluments paid to sweeper-cleaners. In 2018, government took a decision to regularise the sweeper-cleaners after a group, of predominantly women, protested several times in Georgetown and Linden, demanding to be paid the minimum wage and also for better working conditions.
It was reported that, as the government works towards fully regularising the services offered by sweeper-cleaners, money had been set aside in the 2019 budget for the services of additional persons who provide this service to schools and other public offices across the Demerara-Mahaica region.
Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, during his presentation to the Committee of Supply of the National Assembly, in December, said that a sum of $200M had been budgeted for cleaners in Demerara-Mahaica. Despite the regularisation of sweeper-cleaners, GPSU Vice President Dawn Gardener had noted in a past report that the union will continue to advocate for the sweeper-cleaners to be entitled to sick leave, vacation leave and allowances, in keeping with the Public Service rules.
In addition, she said these workers upon reaching the age of retirement, should be paid benefits for the period of employment.