Unions must cooperate and collaborate for wage increases 

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Dear Editor,

GAWU is perturbed that the Public Service Union has demanded a raise similar to what Guysuco workers (Village Voice Apr 29) received a week ago. A union champions the interests of its workers. If GAWU can advocate for raises for its workers, why shouldn’t PSU make a similar demand for its members? Instead of criticizing each other, unions should collaborate and cooperate for wage increases.

The CEO of Guysuco said a week ago that the company does not have money to pay workers a raise. A tit for tat followed between Guysuso and GAWU with the latter accusing the CEO of hiring new management staff and giving then huge salaries of around 1.2M. Some 33 new ‘managers’ joined Guysuco while experienced ones were terminated. That tit for tat between Gawu and the CEO was for public consumption. Vice President Jagdeo found $200M for sugar workers; the CEO was silent. This led to demand from PSU for an increase for public workers. The working class and the public must examine what is happening at Guysuco contextually. The sugar workers are being taken for a ride now. Nothing has changed and nothing will change empowering them or public service workers because the will to empower workers has been missing since the death of Cheddi Jagan.

One must understand the context of Sase Singh’s appointment as Guysuco CEO. It is a government decision. He assisted the government during the election campaign. Was it a payback for Sase? But several others did more than Sase both during the campaign. Were they similarly rewarded as would have been expected? Why Sase? Did the President appoint him?

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Sase is being allowed to take unpopular decisions and to disrespect workers similar to what a predecessor did under Donald Ramotar’s Presidency. The result is well known. What obtains now is worse under coalition and under Ramotar.

Sase is behaving like a runaway horse. He does not listen to the board which is powerless to hold him accountable. He has the confidence of the government, and the party and so he can afford to ignore the board because seemingly there are no consequences.

Not much has improved for sugar or public service workers since the change in administration. GAWU leadership has not been as militant as under Komal Chand. The workers being fooled by the sudden activism of the union. The wildcat mini strikes and picketing exercises seem orchestrated for public consumption that something is being done to improve wages and conditions for workers. Are actions cleared by the head of Freedom House before GAWU takes industrial actions. The union leader sits as a Member of Parliament. Isn’t that a conflict of interest? A parliamentary seat is at stake. Which other union leader sits as a MP?

GAWU shouldn’t be offended when PSU asks for a wage increase. Instead unions must support each other demanding livable wage for workers.

Yours truly,

Thomas Whitehead



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