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‘Starving’, unpaid City Hall workers continue to protest

…as Mayor, Town Clerk on overseas tour

“Mayor and Town Clerk touring, workers starving!” was just one of the many placards outside of City Hall on Monday as scores of workers took to the streets to demand their salaries for the month of October. In addition, Deputy Mayor Lionel Jaikarran fought tears as he called out the administration for not being able to constantly pay the workers their salaries.

The workers from various departments within the Municipality protested calling for them to be paid on a regular basis.

“It has been brought to my attention that our staff have not been paid for last month (October). I have my Secretary and many other people coming to my office telling me that they have to go take a loan and pay interest rates on this loan to get by. It is hard when you live paycheck to paycheck, those who know it feels it. My empathy goes out to each and every member of the staff. I saw them in front of City Hall this afternoon and my heart broke,” Jaikarran said while fighting tears during Monday’s Statutory Meeting.

One of the disgruntled M&CC worker

The deputy mayor chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Patricia Chase-Green who is currently on tour in China with Town Clerk Royston King and Chairman of the Finance Committee Oscar Clarke. The last time the trio took a trip together Guyana got the highly flawed and controversial Parking Meter project. They are expected to be back on Tuesday (tomorrow), and an Extraordinary Statutory Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon to discuss the financial crisis at the M&CC.

Jaikarran said that, through his office and with approval from Deputy Town Clerk Sharron Harry-Munroe, solicited a sum of $7,511,130 for the payment of staffers for the month of October. However, that money came with a heavy price tag since City Hall had to waive $19M in interests from the errant taxpayer.

“It is my sincere hope madame Town Clerk that as I hand you this cheque that the first order of business would be to see the staff remunerated,” he said.

“We can’t pay our workers; we are not in the position to. When the opportunity presented itself, I called the Deputy Town Clerk and she said that we needed it. There is was a protest outside there and it is not right because if you commit to taking on someone to work for you then you must honour your commitment,” Jaikarran said in an invited comment.

Additionally, Councillor Heston Bostwick threatened to resign if his cheques continue to be bounced when he tries to cash them in.

Some of the protesters

“I stand to report the fact that if it is that administration cannot respect elected officials and councillors and treat them with the respect, I humbly and sincerely promise that if this continue I will have no other choice than to tender my resignation. I do not believe that councillors were elected to be rubber stamps as it appears,” he told Monday’s statutory meeting.

Bostwick is owed $150,000 as a stipend for his participation in the parking meter negotiating committee and Jaikarran said that he hopes that the money is sufficient to pay staffers as well as Bostwick.

Deputy Mayor, Lionel Jaikarran at Monday’s Statutory Meeting

For quite a while now, the Mayor & City Council (M&CC) have been cash strapped, and on multiple occasions, work around the city had to be halted, since the Municipality was unable to pay workers. The City’s major garbage contractors, Cevons Waste Disposal and Puran Bros Disposal Service, were forced to withdraw their services after the administration was unable to pay them over $300M that they were owed. This resulted in Cevons laying off a number of its employees and Central Government has since indicated that they would be considering bailing the cash strapped municipality out. (Lakhram Bhagirat)