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Citizens and workers assume, especially the African community, Minister of Labour Joe Hamilton’s physical presence in the Jagdeo/Ali regime could see him taking a stand against policies and programmes that transgress rights and militate against people’s well-being. Don’t be fooled. Hamilition is purposely placed there as one of the executioners, one of the faces of the regime’s discriminatory practices. As in apartheid, indentureship and slavery his kind is always the face, the enforcer.
In his recent tirade where he was instructed by his masters to attack me, using the state media where they know my right to respond in the same media will be denied, demonstrates how easily he could be led. It also goes to show how comfortable he is executing the task of using state media to attack citizens conscious that the attacked will be denied the right to respond in the same media. That is discrimination but Joe just cannot see it.
Under the labour laws Joe has outlined responsibilities he must act on and stop acting like a street thug because where he may be acting on the directive of his masters he is an embarrassment to the office. This issue is about workers and upholding their rights under the law and him doing what he must do to ensure a stable industrial relations environment.
Using the state media to accuse me of not having integrity, when if the word falls on his head, he won’t be able to recognise it, won’t absolve him from responsibility under the law. There is more integrity in my small finger than in all his being. I am grateful to God I am alive, and I am not Father Bernard Darke who suffered at the hands of an opportunist, so I will exercise my right here to respond to his wickedness. I don’t live with the demons of taking someone’s life or feeling beholden to any regime because they saved my children from answering to a court of law. None of these evils haunt me.
Hamilton has a job to do, he must deliver, and will be held accountable by me to act accordingly. As a trade unionist I don’t account to Joe and the PPP, I account to the membership. As minister he is accountable to the nation and that he must understand.
His claim that the Ministry of Labour trained approximately 4500 Africans over the last year is bogus. Let him show this nation where these persons are and where they are employed. And what one-week training is sufficient to equip persons to actively participate in the economy other than $40,000 given out every month to a new classification of people, they want to call active workers, who only have to mark their names present. As Minister of Labour he should be ashamed this is what is being called employment when in fact this is disrespectful to local labour and reducing them to mendicants.
The 1000 jobs he claimed were created in Linden at the Call Centre is another fabrication. Had he done his homework he would have known the centre is almost inoperable. There are no 1000 workers there.
If Joe is offended to being referred to as house slave, then let him stand up and act as the field and factory slaves did. Fight for his dignity, respect and that of the people. African Guyanese, be they active, past or future workers, are not demanding anything more than what is duly theirs under the Constitution and Laws of Guyana. They are asking no favours.
For instance, those tens of thousands of pink slips still in the possession of African Guyanese let Joe tell his masters to pay them their $25,000 cash grant. Those who applied for land and are waiting-only because of who they are- as others jump the line, Joe must insist his masters right this wrong. Let him tell his bosses to stop coveting ancestral lands.
He must get his bosses to sit down with the elected leaders in the African community, as they did with the Indigenous community, and work out a plan and allocate the requisite resources for its implementation in this the “International Decade of People of African Descent.” Joe Hamilton, as Minister of Labour, must insist his masters respect collective bargaining where African workers are predominantly employed.
Hamilton has the opportunity if he is offended by the house slave label to prove he is not. The ball is in his court.