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The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) rejects the decision by the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) to terminate hundreds of workers. The effort by Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shaik Baksh, to present the case that last year GWI suffered about $1B loss and since his assumption the company has returned to a surplus, yet he is moving to dismiss workers is an attempt at deception for the real reason for placing workers on the breadline. If the company performed badly when those workers were there and is now claiming a surplus is revenue, then any suggested problem is clearly not the workers.
Any industrial relations upset in the essential services should be of grave concern to this nation, whether real or manufactured. GTUC calls on GWI to provide the real reasons why they are sending home these workers. If the problem is finance, then the company must make public the finances for review. The CEO must show the nation the financial analysis for dismissing hundreds of workers. The act to lay off the workers has the potential for further creating major disruption of economic activity through government employment.
The situation is further worsened in that there is no effort, no plan for retooling the affected workers either within the organisation or otherwise. GTUC asks the CEO and the Irfaan Ali government, what about the socio-economic wellbeing of these workers and the communities within which they exist?
Some have expressed the view that whereas the regime is injecting billions to save the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), that is non profitable and bleeding the Treasury, in order to provide socio-economic support to sugar workers and their communities, the same is not being done for other employees. This is vindictiveness.
GWI within the last five years had undergone massive infrastructural expansion, service and improved quality of water. Human resources are needed to maintain the service. Instructively, under the present Baksh’s leadership the service has returned to the poor standard where he left it. The dismissing of these workers may well be intended to return poor service and create jobs for the boys by outsourcing work where specialisation of skills is required.
It is further noted that where these workers are predominantly Africans their unemployment will affect the economic conditions of the African community. The same situation obtains for the Bauxite Company Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) where hundreds remain unemployed, in an ongoing industrial dispute that has never been resolved consistent with the Labour Laws and under the guidance of the responsible Ministry of Labour. Whereas the affected workers will not identify as a community, because they are not concentrated in one industry or sector, these workers belong to households and communities and their displacement will have socio-economic impact.