Linden contractors shunned in $2.1B contracts for town
It happened again. The Guyana Water Inc (GWI) on Saturday, October 13 signed a contract for in excess of $1.7 billion with Universal Earth Movers Incorporated for the construction of two water treatment plants, booster station and storage facilities in Linden. On September 15 the GWI awarded two contracts valued at $475 million to S. Jagmohan Hardware Supplies and Construction Services. The two contractors are not residents of Linden and as we have seen happen in the past, workers for these jobs are sourced outside of the community, even though the region has the most skilled artisans and a high unemployment pool. When the regional workers are hired they are usually given the low level jobs even though they are the ones that ensure the success of the project and do the job for their supervisors who are often at sea.
This is not development because you cannot build infrastructure in the region and give the jobs to externals who will take the money out of the region then expect the community to pay for these services when the majority do not have a stable income, or cannot find work. While the region welcomes development projects the people must be in a position to pay for and maintain them and this can only be done when they are employed.
The Economic Committee that was agreed upon in the 21st August Agreement between the Central Govern-ment and the Region 10 Administration is yet to start functioning because inherent in it is the effort to right the wrongs. The region is highly suspicious of the reason the government is holding up this committee and GWI’s recent awards are proving our suspicions right. The PPP does not want Lindeners and the people of Region 10 to be economically self-sufficient.
They want a situation where they think they can have us on our knees where we have to grovel for work to take care of our families.
They want a situation where we feel we have to accept the trampling of our rights to join a trade union of choice and engage in collective bargaining consistent with the law, so their foreign employer friends can treat us like second class citizens in the land of our birth. They want a situation where we are paid a pittance for work when we are qualified to earn more.
They want a situation where our youths, having made the sacrifices to achieve a good education, are denied a future to use their skills, earn a living and help in the development of themselves and their land.
They want a situation where our elderly are denied the dignity that comes with aging and the reward that comes with serving. They want a situation where persons on the outside can look in at Lindeners and say we are lazy and freeloaders and therefore deserving to be punished and discriminated against. They have their agenda well mapped out.
But what they do not have is our soul and determination and they will never have them. I and the Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union (GB&GWU) have stood in solidarity with the trade unionist/politician Donald Ramotar and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) on matters they sought the PNC government’s attention. When we stood with them it was not because we felt the PNC was evil or Messrs Burnham and Hoyte were undeserving to be presidents.
We stood with them because we thought it was the right thing to do. And if we stood in solidarity with Mr. Ramotar and GAWU against the PNC governments, today we will stand up against Mr. Ramotar’s wrongs!
The Regional Chairman, Mr. Sharma Solomon, on signing the agreement said, “We will trust this regime to implement the Agreement because the people will see to it. The people of Linden/Region 10 will hold this regime, the national leaders and National Assembly accountable for its delivery. We will hold civic society accountable for ensuring that government and the opposition deliver on their commitment and responsibility. The power rests with the people and will be applied until equal rights and justice are restored for every Lindener, every citizen in Region 10. The Region remains mobilised.” When the Chairman uttered these statements they were with the full support and weight of the people in Region 10.
Those who asked that we come off the streets so they can get about their business they should take note that while we may not be visibly on the streets we have not removed and remain mobilised.
Those who offer their support to see the implementation of the agreement and have gone silent in the midst of the government reneging on the agreement, we hope you remain silent when we return in our numbers to the streets to secure what is rightly ours. While some do not understand our motivation to keep fighting we made a vow that the State brutality which saw the murder of our three sons on July 18, scores of people injured on July 18, August 10 and 12, which included women, elderly and babies, will not go in vain. We shall not be moved until equal rights and justice are restored. And we shall overcome!
Trades unionist and Region 10