Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
By Khemraj Ramjattan- The filing of returns by Trade Unions annually is one of those measures which has fallen into disuse…in law it is called desuetude. It cannot impact on the validity of the Union as a Union.
The character of being legitimately a union is its certification by the Trade Union Recognition Board under the Trade Union Recognition Act. And the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) has that certification. It is for that reason why the Employer, Ministry of Education, was dealing with it as the bargaining unit for teachers. The non-filing of returns, hence, does not delegitimise a union. It is a red herring to, as it were, character assassinate the Union and its leaders.
This was the same assault launched on the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) when it had its strike in 1999. I was the lawyer who argued on behalf Gopaul in Nanda Gopaul v GPSU. This point I recall was raised there before Justice Ian Chang. After this case, we had the Trade Union Recognition Act passed which provided for the recognition of unions…. via certification.
The other point to note is that a kind of estoppel must apply to GTU like all other recognised unions via the acquiescence of the Employer. Only the other day Ministry of Education was talking to GTU and 23 issues out of 40 were worked out.
Why now come to give the false impression that something is wrong when Union did not file its returns. It is just mischief from the most despicable of politician, Bharrat ‘Jagabat’ Jagdeo. This is a distraction from the core issue being the absence of collective bargaining and the selective application of teachers’ requests by the incumbent administration.
The Auditor General and the Commercial Registrar must all pronounce on the compliance by all trade unions and not only the GTU. The government must also explain why it has never withheld the collection of agency fees towards its own industrial arm, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) despite this union holding the record for strikes in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Does Jagdeo ever inform his membership how the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP’s) monies are spent? His Party’s treasure chest has hundreds of millions from the Contractor- Crony-Capitalist class in various accounts.
When I had called for a full and public financial statement as Leader of the Section K Campbellsville PPP group in 2002 at Port Morant Congress, the leadership shut it down. Instead, I was given the boot a couple of years after. Look what has happened now, he, Jagdeo has not held Congress since 2016. The PPP membership then has no knowledge of its financial status for 2019, and 2022. And he just loves to throw stones when his House is so fragile. His is a dirty politics…always and nothing more. I repeat, Irfaan Ali should sack him just like he (Jagdeo) sacked Janet Jagan.
Khemraj Ramjattan is an attorney-at-law, Leader of the Alliance For Change, and Member of Parliament