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Note has been taken of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union’s (GAWU) continuous efforts at highlighting problems faced by workers who do not enjoy bargaining rights at their places of work. Whereas in keeping with trade principles such efforts are supported it is important to peel back the new veil of deception being pursued by the Union.
Seepaul Narine, who is President of GAWU and one of Labour’s representatives on the Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board (TURB) is actively engaging in undermining the constitutional right of workers to join a trade union of choice.
A case in point is the matter of the Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union (GB&GWU) which was granted recognition by the TURB to represent workers employed by Cyril Taxi Service, which is contracted by the oil industry. The current TURB, of which Narine is a part, took a unanimous decision to terminate GB&GWU’s recognition. This is the first time in the history of the TURB a Recognition Agreement has been terminated.
The Trade Union Recognition Act makes provision for the altering of a bargaining unit but it grants no authority to the TURB to terminate Recognition Agreements.
Narine is fully aware of this yet he sat and sided with the other members of the Board to support the violation of the law and the transgressing of workers’ rights. As an aside, it is important for society to know that the three Labour representatives on the TURB are drawn from PPP/C-aligned FITUG.
The GB&GWU is the first union to acquire bargaining rights for workers in the Guyana oil and gas industry. Evidently, this historic achievement unsettles Narine and the government. Also, as the government moves to deny other trade unions the right to pursue the representation of workers, they are working hand in hand with designated companies to have GAWU enter business places, uninhibited, to organise workers into their fold. Society ought not to be fooled by GAWU’s new public relations stunt about how much they care about workers. The case of Cyril Taxi Service exposes the deception.
For whereas on one hand the Union attempts to present to the public a desire to protect non-unionised workers, on the other hand its leadership is actively partnering with the government to deny workers representation if GAWU or a union considered friendly to the PPP/C is not the workers preferred choice.