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Former GWI Head defends hiring hundreds of workers as over 100 fired

GRA and GEA to pay Van-West $12M for unlawfully seizing his fuel

Former Managing Director of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) Dr. Richard Van West-Charles on Thursday defended hiring hundreds of workers during his tenure at the utility company, noting that there is no justification for firing the 157 employees as recently announced.

GWI on Monday afternoon issued termination letters to 76 employees from a total of 157 to be put on the breadline. In a statement, the company said this is being done as part of its restructuring plans and rationalization of the staffing establishment.

At a prior press conference, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shaik Baksh, said the company’s employment numbers had risen from just about 600 in 2015 to 1,300 by August 2020, prompting the much-needed firing. The remainder of staff is slated to be sent off within a three-month period. Baksh pointed out that the employment cost of the organisation had moved from $96M per month in 2015 to $240M in 2020.

Dr. Van West-Charles at a press conference on Thursday stated that there was a need to increase investment and employ more staff to effectively run the company.

He pointed to the drilling of 48 new wells, the establishment of laboratories in Regions two, three, six, nine and others, the increase of the water treatment plants and the increase in the hours of water supply to residents.

“We establish flushing teams, some of the residents in Georgetown and East Coast would have seen flushing in the evenings so that require staff,” he added.

The former GWI head stated that the water quality was improved along the Essequibo Coast and many other areas across the country

“We introduce new technology where people had to use geophysical logging technology….so you have more precision in the drilling when looking for water,” Dr. Van West-Charles stated as he affirmed that the utility company did not have enough staff to do what was needed.

Award ceremonies and other such events held under his tenure he said were geared at increasing employees’ knowledge and boost morale.

He boasted of having work with staff to increase revenue from $3.2B to $5.25b.

The move to fire workers Dr. Van West-Charles said, “clearly shows inefficient management, lack of the objectives of a water utility and placing the country at risk by reducing water access.”

The former GWI head expressed concern that the services from the company will now be reduced paving the way for reduced water supply and quality and increase payment to contractors.

He also alluded to the families which will be affected due to this move.

GWI said its Board of Directors and Management of Guyana Water Incorporated have been making efforts to place employees in public and private organizations and will continue to engage more entities for this purpose.