Workers of Guyana, unite! President Ali is determined to keep us divided. His speech to the nation last Friday was sheer nonsense. While in 2016, he presented himself to the National Assembly and vehemently supported the position of the Union of the Civil Service of Guyana (GPSU) in favor of an increase in salaries, and all the more condemned the APNU + AFC government for not respecting collective bargaining, it is dancing today to a different tune.
In 2021, when given the privilege of speaking out on the issues he claimed to be defending in 2016, he seeks to characterize the union’s fair demand for better wages and respect for collective bargaining as political. Its double standards should not remain unchallenged.
Whenever some workers demand that they be treated fairly, the PPP / C seeks to label their action as wanting to undermine their programs and their government. The president must be told that society is not fooled by its rhetoric in its quest to deny economic justice to sections of the working class. Its comparisons with countries around the world in terms of wages / salaries and percentage increase have no bearing on Guyana. It is beyond shame to think that this nation would ignore that comparisons are made between similar things. What could be compared is the attitude of his regime to that of Equatorial Guinea where the riches go into the pockets of a few.
He must not overwhelm workers with the stupidity between his regime and the opposition which today passes for politics. Its groans only show the world its inability to govern in the interest of all. He was the one who applied for the post, who now holds the post and has to do the job in accordance with Guyana’s constitution and laws.
He and Jagdeo, when in opposition, condemned the Coalition for paying themselves a 50 percent raise. They also said they would not accept a pay rise as MPs and if they take office they will cancel the 50%. They did neither.
They not only refused to cut their pay, but they will add the seven percent. They are men and women who rule without conscience. They ride in tinted, expensive cars while the workers who drive and keep them safe for many days cannot provide a decent meal for their families and struggle to keep a roof over their heads. As they pledge to pay every former sugar worker a quarter of a million dollars, the former public servants they have laid off since taking office and former bauxite workers must crawl.
Ali rules in a way that will sow discord among the working class as she lives off pork. They do not respect the right to collective bargaining where some unions exist, but in the presence of a slight cough made by the Agricultural and General Workers of Guyana (GAWU), they move eagerly to take care of every problem.
This call is made to GAWU not to continue allowing the government to divide the workers. If the right to collective bargaining can be respected for workers within their bargaining unit, it must be equal
treatment of other unions and workers in the company. No union should tolerate unequal treatment, violation of laws and transgression of workers’ rights.
Whatever differences exist between or among unions and leaders, they are infinitesimal compared to the clear and current threat that all workers face. The Ali / Jagdeo government must return to the negotiating table and deal with the Guyana Teachers’ Union, GPSU, Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union, and all unions as they deal with GAWU.
Workers and unions must unite around section 23 (1) of the Union Recognition Act, which states that an employer has a duty to deal with the recognized union and to engage in negotiations collective. This law was made for all workers. Divisions over universally acceptable principles, standards and practices in the trade union movement undermine workers’ gains and weaken their struggle for better living and working conditions.
To all members of society, regardless of race, class, creed or political conviction, I urge a rally for the maintenance of laws and respect for rights in this nation. Let us be guided by the wisdom of the Lutheran pastor Martin NiemÃ¶ller: âFirst, they came looking for the socialists, and I didn’t say anything – because I was not a socialist. Then they came looking for the unionists, and I didn’t say anything â Because I wasn’t a unionist. So they came looking for the Jews, and I didn’t say anything â Because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came to get me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
We must fight back, and while the union’s most powerful weapon is the strike, we must use other means to intensify our struggle and fight for a better society. PPP / C is becoming more and more insensitive to the cries of ordinary men and women every day and this could have a detrimental effect on everyone.