While calling for a united labour movement, the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) is hoping that this year will see the restoration of the right of workers to unionise, strict observance of labour agreements and democratic negotiations when disputes arise.
In the union’s New Year’s Message, NAACIE General Secretary Kenneth Joseph said that its wish list for the year includes the long-overdue joint observance of the May Week celebration, preferably arising out of the renewal of relations between FITUG and the TUC, the main umbrella bodies for unions.
He added that the union is hopeful about the structured re-emergence of joint discussions to unite Guyana’s labour force by first registering all workers in trade unions then by itemising areas of agreement and co-operation that the two bodies can easily implement.
Last year, Joseph noted, NAACIE was made to confront unnecessary challenges in the form of breaches of its collective labour agreements with the Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL).
He said GPL used all types of anti-worker measures to downsize its staff, especially NAACIE members.
He also lamented the imposition of “meagre increases” without the correct procedural recourse to the existing CLAs.
Joseph added that union workers in the sugar industry seem to have been treated as “stepchildren” last year, even as expectations remained firm that they would meet production targets.
He said NAACIE is calling for greater examination of the policies of the GuySuCo board and its management this year, while adding that contingencies must be put in place to mitigate the effects of bad weather.
The union is also recommending that the Public Utilities Commission start to look at the employment practices and management procedures at all public entities.
“There is a grave misuse and manipulation of laws in this sector,” Joseph said.