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Former Prime Minister and Georgetown Mayor, Mr. Hamilton Green, is calling out President Irfaan Ali’s ‘one Guyana’ slogan. According to Green, in the eight per cent ( 8 %) pay out to public sector workers, some of whom are represented by trade unions and other representative associations, the president has ignored the role and function of these in wages/salary increase and working conditions.
Article 147 of the Constitution of Guyana protects the right to collective bargaining for workers where trade unions exist. Among those workers who received the increase are those represented by the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), the Guyana Teachers Union, and others. In the Disciplined Services, the men and women in uniform are represented by associations.
The two-year Ali government continues to refuse to engage the trade unions on wages/salaries and working conditions. The GPSU has carried the government to court, requesting the court direct the respect of collective bargaining. The court is yet to rule on the matter.
The danger we face in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, said Green, is that Ali with his ‘one Guyana’ mantra “believes that he is now invested with what we describe centuries ago as the divine right of Kings.”
Green’s viewpoint follows: –
The old folks say “you nah see thing a daytime and tek firestick fuh see it night time,” simply means to be mindful of the signs that surround you. When you are able to see clear warnings about a situation, you should heed them, instead of ignoring them, as ignoring them might bring you pain and disaster.
Observations below point in this direction, but first a saving grace is the erudite Editorials in the independent media such as the Kaieteur News and Stabroek News. Helping to focus the search light to pierce darkness are the likes of Village Voice, Channels 6 and 9.
The danger we face in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana is the mantra led by President Dr. Irfan Ali.
Listen and observe his body-language and tone of delivery, our Head of State genuinely believes that he is doing what is right and proper for his subjects. The philosophical underpinnings of his unilateral pronouncement suggest that the President really believes that he is now invested with what we describe centuries ago as the divine right of Kings.
The problem is exacerbated by a group of Cabinet Members, Advisors and others with one or two exceptions who see nothing wrong with this march to leading a Kingdom ignoring the norms of protocol, our Constitution and worst of all, our cherished beliefs, which includes the importance and necessity for consultation.
Last week, the President announced an across the board increase to Public Sector employees of 8%. At the time, I was some distance away from my radio and I thought I heard an across the board increase of 38%.
It was 8%, but the quantum is not relevant for the purposes of this letter. It is speaking to the lack or any form of meaningful consultation with the Unions and Associations representing workers in the Public Sector.
This is the hallmark of a creeping dictatorship.
A noticeable feature in human history has been where leaders assumed the right to decide what the people need, all on their own or with the connivance and complicity of a cabal.
In this instance what is irksome is that for all of this year, the cost of living has been going up week by week, but knowing the proclivity of sections of the Guyanese community to splurge at Christmas, this announcement and pay out is conveniently timed for Christmas 2022, so that the main beneficiaries of the back pay will be the merchants, some known friends of the Government who bring in all sorts of stuff to help Public Servants enjoy, and I emphasise enjoy Christmas.
I say to the Public Servants, avoid a shopping spree, practice deferred gratification and not for victims to a well-orchestrated plan to keep some of us at the bottom of the ladder.
I quote in the present circumstances a poem written by R.R. Madden, just the opening sentences
“Behold the peace that’s owned by him who feels
He does no wrong, or outrage when he deals
In human flesh; or yet supplies the gold
To stir the strife, whose victims you behold”
We have emerged as a Nation-State out of the experiences of our erstwhile masters and Guyanese and their leaders should always benefit from their experiences.
With fanfare this year, we welcomed with great joy the new King of England, Charles III. It may be helpful if we recount as part of our education, the behaviour of the first King Charles, who believed in the Divine Rights of Kings and that they answered to God for their actions and not to their subjects.
This allowed King Charles to ignore Parliament and the Institutions which kept the Kingdom intact. His fate is history.
Centuries later in Guyana, we see a revival of those beliefs, where the Head of State can ignore all others and make unilateral pronouncements as His wont. They say history has a puckish way of repeating itself.
Let us remind our President that One Guyana should mean the inclusion and not the exclusion of the Opposition. One Guyana must mean inclusion and consultation of the entire Trade Union Movement and not their exclusion.
One Guyana is no more than a shibboleth unless the Associations representing Security Forces are included, consulted and not excluded.
One Guyana is meaningless unless Parliament and Speaker are allowed some degree of impartiality and decency and not now what is now manifest.
Let me remind him and all and sundry, at the risk of repeating myself that the “road to ruin is oft times lined with good intentions.”
To Guyanese everywhere, I say stand up for your rights. Stand up for your rights now to avoid a new form of enslavement. Stand up for your rights to avoid being consumed by an unaccountable oligarchy.
To workers, I say stand up for your rights so that your children and their children’s children can live in a land where justice, equity and freedom is enjoyed from the Corentyne to the North West and from the Rupununi to the Coastlands.