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Even the casual observer cannot miss the nine-month-old Irfaan Ali government is showing different treatment for different workers. This is not a healthy political development. The new attitude contradicts the President’s claim about his “One Guyana” approach to governance. It is discriminatory.
Recently the sugar workers took strike action for increased wages and salaries they said were not paid to them since 2019. Whilst the Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) said there was no money to pay any increase, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic and Vice President in the Ali government, announced the government has made available $200million to pay the workers. Mr. Jagdeo intervened in the matter by meeting with the management of GuySuCo and the Guyana Agricultural and Workers Union.
In the case of the nurses, who are frontline workers, the government has taken a different approach. Rather than seeking to address the issue of providing Personal Protective Equipment and risk allowances the nurses were asking for, the government responded by seeking to demean and insult the workers and refused to sit with the union, the Guyana Public Service Union.
In the Linden situation, there is an issue with the nursing staff and the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer after he made a derogatory statement against them. The matter is at a standstill. The government seems disinclined to have the matter resolved even as the nurses continue to protest. These are essential frontline workers, providing a vital service to society particularly where a pandemic is raging. The service of the nurses is of utmost importance to Guyana now yet their concerns are being ignored even as the coronavirus rages, deaths and infection are on the rise.
It may offend some to make a statement of fact, but it must be made. The sugar workers’ issue was resolved within two weeks though they are not essential workers and GuySuCo continues to put a drag on the Treasury to the tune of billions of dollars. These are irrefutable facts which the government is not unaware of but seems uncaring about how their action will be seen. It seems like the “One Guyana” only includes one group of people and not all Guyana.
In the instance of these issues and government’s responses that the government does care how its action is being perceived. It leaves people to wonder, in an ethnically diverse society as ours, if the government is confident that there won’t be unified condemnation thus, they have little or nothing to lose politically. This is not the “One Guyana” many Guyanese envisage or want. This “One Guyana” will surely divide workers and lead to ethnic cleavag