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The Guyana Trades Union Congress wishes to set the record straight on Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton’s statement in the National Assembly in response to a question posed by Member of Parliament Tabitha Sarabo-Halley.
MP Sarabo-Halley on Monday, February 6, 2023 during the Budget Estimates, asked the Minister to respond to the question why only one trade union received subvention in 2022 when money was budgeted for more.
In response Hamilton said “All the unions were written to several times, simple question, simple request: give us a financial statement of how you are spending the money and they have refused and therefore I am duty bound that until and unless they do like GAWU [Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union] that the monies will not be release to the unions we want to do it tomorrow”
This process regarding making a grant available to each trade union for education purposes commenced in 2015 under the APNU/AFC government with a clear agreement that each union will submit to the Labour Department its plans for training and monies will be disbursed to assist in the identified training and on completion of this exercise a report supported by a financial statement forwarded to the Department.
The PPP/C on assumption to office has discarded the practice without engagement with the unions. The PPP/C regime laid new requirements which stated that monies will be disbursed for the execution of plans after the unions submit to the Labour Department an audited statement of their entire financial activities for the preceding year.
The trade unions are guided by the ILO Convention No. 87:3 which expressly states: “The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof.”
In keeping the universally acceptable principles of non-interference in the trade union’s business the other unions have not acquiesced to the government’s dictat. GTUC therefore considers the Minister’s statement a deliberate distortion designed to mislead, to undermine the trade unions and the ILO Convention which the Government of Guyana is a signatory to since 1966.
The government has created an excuse not to release the subvention to some unions in order to deny some workers’ trade union education. Further, the GTUC is aware that they are unions, who never conformed to the rules the government established for the GTUC and others, were the recipients of the grant.