The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is calling for the constituting and proper funding of all constitutional offices and pledges to continue its advocacy of advancing rights and the rule of law.
In a press release, GTUC General Secretary Lincoln Lewis said while the movement is encouraged by the appointment of former judge, attorney-at-law Winston Moore as Ombudsman, appointments have yet to be made for other constitutional offices such as the Public Procurement Commission, Integrity Commission, Ethnic Relations Commission, Human Rights Commission, Public Service Appellate Tribunal and Police Service Commission. The administration must also ensure that Moore’s office
gets the necessary financial resources to ensure functionality, “because any appointment absent requisite resources is tantamount to making the office ineffective/vacant,” he said.
Lewis also stated that the office of the Leader of the Opposition is a constitutional office yet it continues to be denied state funding to conduct its duties even as the non-constitutional foundation created by the First Lady is given state funding to manage its interest. “These injustices must be corrected,” the press release said.
Further, the GTUC noted that the members of the National Assembly and President, having sworn to uphold the Constitution, are duty-bound to deliver leadership by example, as such elected office holders cannot expect the rank and file to continue working hard and upholding the laws when several in their midst are underperforming and breaking the laws. The union said it has taken note of President Ramotar’s New Year’s message and expects him to comply with the requests he made of others.
“A nation arising from 12 years of tyranny, corruption, abuses and gripping fear which hallmarked the style of the immediate past office holder, having found its voice, must also demand the incumbent manages the affairs of state with civility, deliberative judgement and respect, guided by the constitution, local laws, international conventions and covenants,” the group said.
According to the GTUC, Guyana is the only country in the Region whose government has carried out an active policy to transgress citizens’ rights.
“Workers are expected to give their best in an environment of hostile employers, including the government who is not only a violator but also aiding and abetting local and foreign employers,” the union said, noting that government has failed to address the 15-year agitation by retired workers of the telecommunications industry to resolve their retirement income.
Further, “The refusal to address the four-year grievances of bauxite workers employed by the state-foreign owned Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) and 12 year imposition of wages and salaries in the public service are violations of ILO Conventions 87 and 98, and Article 147 of the Constitution….”
Another vexing issue, the union said, is the Local Government Ministry appointment of the Town Clerk to the Georgetown municipality, usurping the Council’s authority to identify and recommend the person to fill the vacancy. The GTUC stands in solidarity with the Guyana Local Government Officers Union on this matter and is encouraged that a member of the union has brought the issue before the Court.
The union also asserts that the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots and decline in real wage must be a matter of national importance.
“The boast of economic growth is meaningless in the midst of rampant injustices, inequities and pervasive poverty. Where government is contemptuous of the rule of law, a house, house lot, car or physical acquisition can be confiscated by the strong and mighty and justice for aggrieved non-existent.”
Guyana faces problems of epic proportions and requires a commitment from all to disarm the forces trampling workers/citizens’ rights, violating laws, manufacturing divisions among groups to self-serving ends and denying the people their rights. To this end, the GTUC plans to intensify its focus on capacity building among its affiliates and nationally.
During the first half of the year, leaders of the GTUC’s affiliates will participate in a knowledge sharing outreach programme that aims to expose members to the workings of institutions namely, law making, public analysts, public and private sectors, religion and vulnerable groups to better understand roles, responsibilities and symbiotic relationships in its pursuit of the creation is a just society. In the second half of the year it will focus on deepening synergies with traditional alliances at home and overseas.