DDL, three unions sign historic five-year fringe benefits pact
Stabroek News
October 22, 2002

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Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) and three unions representing its workers yesterday signed a multi-year agreement on fringe benefits.

The five-year deal was signed at the Ministry of Labour by the heads of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), the Clerical and Commercial Workers Union (CCWU) and the Guyana Labour Union (GLU): Komal Chand, Roy Hughes and Carvil Duncan respectively. The agreement is seen as historic since it was the first time that a company has concluded an agreement with three unions simultaneously.

The agreement is expected to see workers receiving improved benefits in respect of meal allowance, leave passage assistance, cycle allowance, funeral leave, uniform allowance and severance pay among other things.

Signing on behalf of DDL was its Director of Human Resources, Nowrang Persaud, along with Personnel Manager, Jennifer Cipriani and Gail Forde, a personnel department staffer.

On the union's behalf President of GAWU, Chand and its General Secretary, Seepaul Narine along with Field Secretary, Deodat Sukhu and Shop Steward, Nazir Ally signed for that union. Duncan, General Secretary of the GLU signed on behalf of his union while CCWU's President, Hughes signed on his entity's behalf.

Speaking following the signing yesterday, GAWU's head Chand hailed it as significant since it was the first time that three union heads, were signing an agreement at the same time.

The occasion, according to Chand, demonstrated that unions could work together for the betterment of their respective members. He also praised the role of DDL in facilitating the agreement while recognising the shrewd negotiating skills of its Human Resources Director Persaud.

Hughes from the CCWU said the three unions met over a long period and thrashed out an agreement for the common good of their members. GLU President, Duncan, noted the determination and direction which the three unions adopted for the negotiations. He said the agreement was the best that could be achieved in the present circumstances.

Like the other union leaders, he noted that the agreement only covered fringe benefits and has no bearing on negotiations for wages.

DDL's Human Resources Director, Persaud said that substantial improvements were made. He highlighted the case of leave passage allowance where he said monthly workers will see these rising by between 85-90% while those employed on a fortnightly basis will see this increase by over 50%.

Noting that the negotiations took some 10 months, Persaud singled out GAWU's General Secretary, Narine, who he said took on the role of spokesperson for the three unions.

The bulk of the workforce - mainly in the beverage and distillery bottling sections - is represented by GAWU with the CCWU representing all monthly paid staff including supervisors and beverage and sales persons. The GLU, which has approximately 70 members, looks after the interests of drivers, deliverymen and some workers in the bottling plant. (Oscar P. Clarke)