– draws warning from Minister Scott
Minister with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott, on Monday praised two local manufacturing firms for exemplary industrial relations standards while maintaining high staff morale and experiencing low worker turnover. Scott made the remarks following the end of familiarisation tours to the National Milling Company (NAMILCO) and giant beverage conglomerate Banks DIH both located south of the capital.
The Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection assured that the government “will do everything to help the company maintain their high industrial relations standards and will detail Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) officers to help strengthen that sector in the two local companies.”
“Overall, both companies are doing very well,” Scott said at the end of Monday visits. While at the beverage giant, Scott and his team of MOSP officials from the labour, OSH and the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency (CRMA), examined several aspects of the operations and both NAMILCO and Banks DIH Ltd. At the latter, the officials examined the new technologies used in the production of the Banks Beer plant which produces some 14,000 to 18,000 bottles of the product daily. They also benefitted from guided tours of the beverage and alcohol, pastry and biscuits and the machine shop.
While at NAMILCO, Scott held formal discussions with executives where he unveiled plans “to meet with all employers (and unions) individually” this year to sensitise them to the “new levels of industrial relations Guyana is currently experiencing”. Unions, Scott explained, have to “adjust to the new psychological atmosphere” enveloping the local labour sector. Without naming companies, Scott said “some large employers are on a confrontational path” with the Labour Department.
Nevertheless he reminded that he will maintain his ‘open door’ policy with employers.“It is in all our interests for Guyana to have a stable industrial relations climate…and the government’s position is not to intimidate but to help companies fulfil their goals,” Scott said. “We want to bring down the unemployment rate in Guyana,” Scott told NAMILCO executives, urging them to utilise the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) and the CRMA both agencies within the MOSP.
NAMILCO’s Managing Director, Bert Sukhai, praised Scott for initiating Monday’s visit and said afterwards that Guyanese should expect no price increases for flour even though the company will be hit by high er corporation taxes this year. “NAMILCO will absorb the (higher) corporation tax under the new VAT (Value Added Tax) regime,” Sukhai disclosed. He reiterated stable prices in 2017 for the company’s 20 products notwithstanding a higher wage bill from November 2016. NAMILCO and the Guyana Labour Union (GLU) brokered a three-year wages pact which guarantees workers a 21 per cent pay hike over the period. NAMILCO workers received the first increase in November 2016, Sukhai said.