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The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is in Day Three of its 5th Triennial Conference. The conference opened on Wednesday with former Minister of Finance, and 2nd Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Mr. Carl Greenidge, delivering the charge to the delegates. In a spirited and at times passionate delivery, Greenidge called on the workers to assert themselves in keeping with their role in society and to stay the course.
Workers deserve better pay
Touching on income, the former minister, who is an economist, told workers they deserve better pay. Greenidge contended under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) workers deserve a living wage, opportunities to own their homes and have a better standard of living. According to Greenidge, there is the need to reduce inequalities in terms of wages. Workers, he said, if paid higher income “can own homes and moreso acquire a better living standard.”
The Ali government has announced a $25,000 one-off payment to government workers, payable on 1st December. This sum flies in the face of an economy is considered the world’s fastest growing and in 2023 will be earning no less than US$1.88 Billion from oil revenue.
The government also continues to disregard collective bargaining with the Guyana Public Service Union and Guyana Teachers Union, and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union on outstanding matters with the Bauxite Company Guyana Inc (BCGI) which is part owned by the Government of Guyana and RUSAL.
Government must cater for citizens’ needs
And in this thriving economy, Greenidge said government should have no reason why the public servants should not be prioritized. According to the economist, governments have “a right to cater for the needs of citizens as it is their duty.” He also posited it is time for the labour laws to be reviewed with the aim of ensuring Guyanese workers have the benefit of participating in an all-inclusive economic society.
The former minister in addressing the role of the trade union in society is calling for a more assertive approach. He charged the trade unions to advocate, form alliances and lobby for theirs and the workers’ welfare. He pointed out that the labour force could only be effective when policy makers develop viable mechanisms that allow for equalities in income, housing, labour and education.
Making it clear he is not opposed to foreign nationals seeking working opportunities in Guyana, the former minister also clearly stated Guyanese should not be disenfranchised where opportunities are available.
Greenidge is also calling for an approach to local governance that acknowledges international reality that would allow for the sustaining of an equitable financial strategy that could benefit the working class. He bemoaned the reality that while Guyana is an oil-rich economy “many public servant workers are surviving on minimum incomes.”