PNCR protests poor GPL service
February 19, 2003
The PNCR is deeply dismayed at what it says is the continuing deterioration of the services offered by Guyana Power and Light (GPL).
Speaking at the party’s weekly press conference on Thursday, central executive member, Clarissa Riehl, told reporters that not only had the company’s customer service and treatment of consumers not improved, but there had been a noticeable increase in long and inconvenient power outages.
The PNCR said that the negative cycle of poor service and higher and unsustainable rate hikes must come to an end.
The PNCR said that since the government was a major shareholder in the company, then the directors whom the government had appointed were responsible for ensuring that the government’s position on behalf of the people of Guyana was heard, understood and respected.
TUC protests GPL tariffs
A protest organised by the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) yesterday demanded an end to the contract of the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) while at the same time appealing for tariffs not to be increased.
Amid chants of “GPL must go” and “GPL! They got to go”, about 40 persons, mainly from the trade union body, paraded outside the Main Street offices of the power company airing their demands.
The protest which lasted for around an hour, saw several union leaders joining the picket line in a show of solidarity against what they said was Guyana Power and Light’s incompetence and inefficiency.
Bearing placards with inscriptions including “GPL must go”, “Scrap the contract”, “Stop increases in electricity”, “GPL we needed you but you let us down” and “GPL customers can’t finance mismanagement”, the protestors encouraged persons to join their act against the power company.
TUC President and General Secretary of the Guyana Labour Union, Carvil Duncan told reporters that the trade union movement is against increasing tariffs to offset bad management as is the case with existing GPL contract.
According to the TUC and GLU head, if there are falls in income as a result of inefficiency then they (management) cannot expect to recoup this by raising tariffs to consumers.
Duncan said this was like asking ordinary hard-working persons to pay for its (GPL’s) inefficiency.
Contending that the GPL contract was a badly structured one, Duncan said that workers could not compensate management for its incompetence.
Duncan was also not satisfied with the claim that the electricity rates in Guyana were among the lowest in the Caribbean.
“Workers here only got five percent increase in salaries last year most of which has been sapped up by inflation”, Duncan said.
Increases in light bills, he continued, would not be the only factor consumers would have to deal with, since the increases would have the effect of causing the cost of other services to rise.
GTUC General Secretary Lincoln Lewis attempted to cajole the media into joining the picket line while asking them to show where their loyalties lay with respect to the issue.
“We have to show solidarity with Guyanese against the Irish managers,” Lewis said while continuing to encourage the members of the media to show solidarity with the workers of Guyana.
According to Lewis, in the rush to privatise there was an absence of careful thought, instead government was anxious to bow to pressure from international bodies.
Prime Minister Sam Hinds, Lewis continued, in 1999 rejected an offer put on the table by the TUC to take the issue to the public.
He said instead the government was of the view that only foreigners could run things thus their lukewarm response to working towards a locally led team to whom they could have privatised the power sector. TUC President Duncan signalled that yesterday’s trade union protest was only the start of a sustained struggle against the power company which could also take other forms of action.