DDL workers for performance-based wage increases
Three unions sign deal with company By Oscar P. Clarke
Stabroek News
November 5, 2003

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Unionised workers at Demerara Distillers Ltd (DDL) will shortly begin reaping the benefits of a multi-year, performance-based agreement, which has been finalised between management and their bargaining agents.

The agreement, covering wages for unionised workers under five newly-created bands, will see them benefiting from increases ranging between seven percent and 12 percent for 2003 and 2004 and rising to between eight percent and 13 percent for 2005.

Yesterday, top officials of the Clerical and Commercial Workers Union (CCWU), the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the Guyana Labour Union (GLU), all of whom represent workers at DDL, signed the agreement in the presence of Chief Labour Officer Mohamed Akeel.

The new bands encompass the previous classifications of F1, F2, F3, F4 in the fortnightly payroll and M1, M2, and M3 in the monthly payroll. Under the new arrangements Band 1 will cover mainly labourers, porters, cleaners and attendants; the category does not require prior knowledge/skill, or experience.

Band 2 covers mainly operators of simple machines or entry-level clerks for operations not requiring prior experience and semi-skilled jobs.

Operators of complex machines such as forklifts and still-operators, tradesmen without certification e.g. masons and carpenters, drivers, clerks for clerical operations requiring prior on-the-job experience, will be covered under band 3.

Band 4 will cover those undertaking quality-control tasks, certified technicians and clerks for clerical duties requiring substantial and extensive on-the-job experience.

Senior tradesmen and technicians working independently and having some administrative responsibility, including supervisors in any bargaining unit of the union, will be in band 5.

DDL and the three unions agreed that a job evaluation scheme providing for a system establishing the relative value of existing jobs and classification of new ones evolving with technological and other changes would be applied.

Additionally, a new compensation structure which provides for salary increases that recognise the imperatives of the company, changes in inflation and differences in individual performance among employees was also agreed to. This is designed to reward employees whose performances are recorded as excellent.

DDL Human Resources Director, Nowrang Persaud, alluded to the months of persistent and painstaking work by all concerned to achieve the ground-breaking agreement.

He lauded the maturity of the unions and singled out the negotiating skills of GAWU’s general secretary, Seepaul Narine, for special commendation.

CCWU’s President Roy Hughes described the signing as a historic occasion since it demonstrated the capacity of three unions, who otherwise shared independent views, to collaborate and forge a landmark agreement.

According to Hughes, it is indeed significant since one of the unions — GAWU — is outside the Guyana Trades Union Congress, while another - GLU — is outside the re-invigorated Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG). His union - CCWU - occupies the middle ground, being a member of both camps.

GAWU’s President Komal Chand saw the agreement as a step in the right direction, which would allow a period of stability and relief for both the company and its workers.

He alluded to the benefits, which the workers stand to achieve through the multi-year agreement, while highlighting their importance to the growth and development of the company.

Chand also lauded the cohesion shown by the unions and urged that this be used as an example for other organisations, including the political parties, in brokering agreements.

GTU’s general secretary, Carvil Duncan, described the signing as significant in the sense that it will afford increases on performance-based appraisals on a multi-year basis, a first for this type of agreement.

Saying: “We are the eyes of history,” Duncan saw the agreement bringing an end to the tradition of across-the-board increases and rewarding those who put their shoulders to the wheel.

Akeel said the agreement was nothing new, as merit increments had been applied before and were being focused on again. Recalling the anguish of several employers who approach the ministry with tales of workers’ woes, he appealed for a change in work ethics if things are to improve.

He appealed to the unions to sell the agreement to their members at the beverage firm and other entities and congratulated DDL on adopting performance-based increases.