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Grenlec workers still off the job

Employees of Grenlec staged protest action outside the compound at Dusty Highway

A strike by workers at the state-controlled Grenada Electricity continues with no signs of an immediate end.

A source close to the company told THE NEW TODAY that the workers, backed by the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) have vowed not to call off the strike action until the management of the utility company shows that it is serious about their grievances.

TAWU has accused Grenlec of dragging its feet on the resumption of negotiations to complete a new Collective Bargaining agreement for the employees.

The source said that the union and the company have reached agreement on salary increases for the workers but the management has not given any information on the resumption of negotiations on increased fringe benefits for the workers.

He spoke of TAWU taking the position that Grenlec is slow in responding to their request for a meeting on the grounds that the Board of Directors have not met yet to ratify the salary increases.

The workers took strike action last week, leaving only Supervisors to mann the operations of the utility company.

According to the source, TAWU is taking the position that the board should have had a meeting by now to accept the offer on the table and was engaged in delaying tactics.

“They (Grenlec) have to do something but the board just hasn’t had a meeting yet – they wrote them telling them that the Board has not met yet. The board has to instruct them (company as to how to go forward,” said a senior Grenlec employee.

He also expressed fears that all the benefits given to the workers in negotiations so far will amount to an estimated 25% increase in salaries for Grenlec workers.

“This is unsustainable,” said a company official, who indicated that Grenlec might be forced to release some of their workers because “I don’t think it is sustainable – they can’t afford that kind of pay.”

The senior manager pointed out that it is doubtful that the electricity company will be able to sustain the kind of salary increase and other fringe benefits in the TAWU negotiations without resorting to a hike in electricity costs to consumers in Grenada.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the company officials have calculated that the salary increases, along with the improved fringe benefits and new items included by TAWU in the negotiations for a new industrial contract covering a 7-year period was estimated at just over EC$80 million.

The union was also said to be demanding that the profit sharing for workers be increased from 13 to 25%.

Grenlec has a non-fuel charge regime in place to take care of its operational cost for issues such as electrical lines and poles.

The island’s sole power generating company has between 160-170 workers on its payroll.

The Keith Mitchell-led administration took back control of Grenlec some 18 months ago after it lost an international arbitration tribunal hearing that forced it to find over EC$200 million to repurchase the controlling shares from the U.S based company, WRB Enterprises.

Prime Minister Mitchell had opposed the decision taken by the 1990-95 Congress government of late Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Brathwaite to privatise the loss-making utility company which was notable for frequent load-shedding due to ageing equipment.

The U.S Company triggered the buy-back clause in the agreement shortly after Prime Minister Mitchell won the 2018 general election and both sides were forced to go into arbitration.

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