Retrenchment of GWI workers not politically, racially driven – Min. Croal

Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal says the retrenchment of workers at the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) is neither racially nor politically driven.

The Minister was at the time responding to reports that the GWI is targeting persons of a particular race for retrenchment.  

Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal

“The issue of retrenchment of workers has nothing to do with politics or in terms of race, it is simply to improve the efficiency and performance at GWI,” he said on the side-lines of an event on Thursday.

On Monday, the GWI issued termination letters to 76 employees effective June 30. The 76 employees are among 157 persons who are listed to be sent off as part of GWI’s restructuring plans and rationalisation of the staffing establishment.

Minister Croal explained that employment at the company had more than doubled over the past five years, rising from 600 employees in 2015 to 1,380 in 2020. This, he said, represents a 125 per cent increase during that period.

He said all due processes were followed in keeping with the Laws of Guyana which includes engagements at the level of the GWI’s Board of Directions and the union which represents the workers.

Minister Croal also said the GWI plans to engage the Ministry of Labour as well as the private sector in an effort to secure jobs for those workers.

Meanwhile, the former CEO, Dr. Richard van-West Charles claimed that the company had to increase its staff complement in order to improve productivity.

In response, Minister within the Housing Ministry, Hon. Susan Rodrigues, said there were no improvements in the company’s efficiency even with an increase of some 700 workers over the last five years.

Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Hon. Susan Rodrigues

She said when the Government took office in August last year, it found 627 major leaks reported countrywide. That has been reduced to three to date. Minor leaks in August 2020 were 8000, today it is just over 100.

Additionally, outstanding new applications was over 5000 and today, it has been reduced to 500.

“So, where is the effectiveness or efficiency that van West Charles was talking about?” she asked.

Minister Rodrigues said the employees who are being terminated were hired as mostly customer service representatives and clerks.

“We are satisfied that the staff complement that we have remaining will be able to do an effective job, will be able to serve our customers to a level in which we are satisfied without putting financial burden on the company.”

The GWI’s employment costs had also more than doubled, increasing from $96 million to $240 million in 2020.

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