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– GTUC tells PPP/C Government
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has called on the Irfaan Ali administration to cease its economic assault on African Guyanese labour, saying that the pattern of behaviour is unacceptable.
“Without fail this nation could expect to hear more African workers terminated, not reassigned, from the public service on flimsy pretexts, some of which are being justified by linguistic demonisation that they are “obstructionists” without an iota of evidence. The pattern of behaviour is unacceptable and evidently a systematic effort to marginalise a section of the Guyanese from working in the public sector which this regime is unmistakably converting to a political party sector,” the umbrealla trade union said in a statement Wednesday.
The union noted that the previous administration, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), when it assumed office did not carry out this witch hunting and recrimination that have become characteristics of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administrations. “None other than President David Granger retained the Secretary who served during the Donald Ramotar presidency.”
According to the GTUC workers being targeted did nothing wrong other than be born black, were employed during the previous administration, have not publicly declared support for the PPP/C, and perceived to have expressed their freedom of choice for a party/group merely based on how they look. “The vengeful targeting of African workers has reached the stage where it could be considered a public health issue given the consequences borne from emotional and economic disruption. Within the last few days 40 Community Health Workers employed in Region Four, a stronghold of the Opposition, were placed on the breadline when this nation is suffering through a pandemic (COVID-19) which the government is mishandling. Another 40 plus from the Office of the President, who worked with the National Policy Development Presidential Advisory Services, were terminated. Who is next?,” the union questioned.
The union noted that this is not a matter of restructuring the economy as done during the Desmond Hoyte administration when Guyana transitioned from a dominant state to private sector driven economy and the Structural Adjustment/Economic Recovery Programme was implemented. “When Hoyte did this, his administration provided re-assignment, opportunities for retooling, and new skills training. This is a case of creating a political economy that sets out to economically marginalise and dispossess a targeted section of society, placing them on the fringe, stripping them of dignity and inflicting emotional scars,” the GTUC stated.
According to the trade union the PPP/C has declared war on the African economy, noting that “for how else could these wanton terminations, over the last seven months, targeting this group be explained.” “It is economic injustice, economic genocide. On one hand the regime publicly states it is unapologetic injecting billions into the beleaguered Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to safeguard what it refers to as the “socioeconomic well-being” of sugar workers, even if this means taxpayers are subsidizing European taste for a product not considered profitable.”
The GTUC reiterates its calls for similar respect for the socioeconomic well-being of African workers in the public sector, bauxite (Bauxite Company Guyana Incorporated) and their communities. “The laying off of sugar workers started during the Bharrat Jagdeo presidency. Whereas the Jagdeo administration did nothing to provide these workers opportunities for alternative skills training, the Coalition provided for micro-financing and retraining. Whereas the coalition comprises supporters from other groups, the Ali regime is targeting African Guyanese which could also be seen as a message to others. This is strategic. Where is the indignation of civil society, ethnic organisations, etc? Where is the conscience of society- have we become so de-sensitised and uncaring to hear, see and feel our brothers and sisters’ concerns? This is not about election and governance, it is deeper than that,” the GTUC stated.