Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Workers of Guyana unite! President Ali is determined to keep us divided as he lives the life akin to the Shah of Iran on our tax dollars. His address to the nation last Friday was pure damn nonsense. Whereas in 2016 he stood in the National Assembly and vociferously supported the Guyana Public Service Union’s (GPSU) position for a 50 percent wage increase, and moreso condemned the APNU+AFC Government for not respecting Collective Bargaining, today he dances to a different tune.
In 2021 when entrusted the privilege to deliver on the issues he professed to stand for in 2016, he seeks to label the just demand by the trade union for better wages/salary and respect for collective bargaining as political. His double standards must not go unchallenged nor his wickedness unexposed.
Whenever some workers demand they be treated fairly the PPP/C seeks to label their action as wanting to undermine their programmes and government. The president must be told the society is not fooled by his rhetoric nor his calculated act of deceit in the quest to deny economic justice to sections of the working class.
His comparisons to countries around the world in dealing with wages/salary and percentage increase has no bearing on Guyana. He is beyond shame to think this nation would ignore comparisons are made between liked things. What could be compared is the attitude of his regime to that of Equatorial Guinea where the wealth goes into the pocket of a few.
He should not burden workers with the stupidity between his regime and the Opposition which passes for politics today. His gripping only demonstrates to the world his inability to govern in the interest of all. It is he who applied for the job, is now in the position, and must get the job done based on the Constitution and Laws of Guyana.
It is unjust and unconscionable to expect workers to band their bellies and punish as he opens his buckle to allow for the expansion of his. Himself and Jagdeo when in Opposition condemned the Coalition for paying themselves a 50 percent increase. They also said they will not accept pay increases as Members of Parliament, and should they enter office they reverse the 50 percent They did neither.
They have not only refused to reduce their salary they will add the seven percent. Every time Ali travels abroad, he collects US$5000.00 as out of pocket allowance, in addition to the state standing all his expenses. A million plus Guyana dollars, which is equivalent to US$5000.00 is more than the yearly salary of many of our nurses and other frontline workers.
These are men and women governing without conscience. They drive around in tinted and expensive cars while the workers who drive and provide them security many days can’t provide a proper meal for their families and struggle to keep a roof over their heads. As they commit to pay each former sugar worker a quarter million-dollar, former public servants they fired since entering office, and former bauxite workers are left to grovel.
Ali is governing in a manner that will sow seeds of discords among the working class as they live on the hog. They disrespect the right to collective bargaining where some trade unions exist but at the presence of a slight cough made by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) they move with alacrity to attend to every issue.
The call is being made to GAWU not to continue to allow the government to divide workers. If the right to collective bargaining could be respected for the workers within their bargaining unit it must be equal treatment for other unions and workers in society. No union must condone inequity in treatment, violating of laws and transgressing of workers’ rights.
Whatever differences may exist between or amongst unions and leaders these are infinitesimal to the clear and present threat all workers are facing. The Ali/Jagdeo government must return to the bargaining table and treat with the Guyana Teachers Union, GPSU, Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union, and all unions as they treat with GAWU.
Workers and trade unions must unite around Section 23 (1) of the Trade Union Recognition Act, which states an employer has a duty to treat with the recognised union and engage in collective bargaining. This law was made for all workers. Divisions on universally acceptable principles, norms and practices in the trade union movement undermine the workers’ gains and weaken their struggle for improved living and working conditions.
Workers and their family must unite and stand up against this recent pay insult, violation of the law, and transgression of basic rights. If we don’t take a stand for basic rights then we are a society without rights because equity, peace and harmony could only be attained when all have the same guarantee and protection under the law.
To all members of society, irrespective of race, class, creed or political persuasion I urge a coming together for the upholding of laws and respecting of rights in this nation. Let us be guided by the wisdom of Lutheran Pastor, Martin Niemöller: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
We have to fight back, and whereas the trade union’s most potent weapon is strike, we have to apply other means to intensify our struggle and fight for a better society. The PPP/C is growing insensitive more and more each day to the cries of the ordinary man and woman and this could have an adverse effect on all.