-urges members’ solidarity with sugar workers
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) yesterday passed a motion to press government for a comprehensive plan for the ailing Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and a call was made to its membership to unite with sugar workers in their struggle.
“GTUC will no longer sit silent as though the problem of the sugar workers are not our problem, it is their problem. No… today, the GTUC is saying we stand in unity with the issues of the sugar workers,” General Secretary of the GTUC Lincoln Lewis told attendees at the GTUC’s Labour Day rally yesterday.
GTUC observed Lab-our Day under the theme, ‘Uniting around issues for labour and national development’ and Lewis said that there should be reflection of a holistic front as it pertains to the struggles of unions countrywide.
“The plight of sugar workers must be of concern to bauxite workers and similarly so to the public servants. And the plight of the bauxite workers must too be of concern to sugar workers and public servants because we are in the same mess together,” he added.
He decried the management of GuySuCo and blamed its failings on the current PPP/C administration. “The PPP has not managed the industry to maximise production; they continue to manage it to use it as a political football. Unprofessional!” Lewis asserted. “Today the industry is in decline and this is not for the want of financial investment but the result of poor management. With all the technical support, the lot of the sugar workers has not improved; industrial activities still remain the highest in all Guyana’s workforce,” he stated.
Lewis also bemoaned the dangerous factory and field conditions under which cane cutters and workers toiled.
Using the cramped way in which cane cutters are transported to and from the fields, as an example, Lewis called on the authorities to address working issues affecting the workers.
Lewis also took aim at the parliamentary opposition, which he said has been calling in the National Assembly for GuySuCo’s overhaul but to no avail.
At the conclusion of the rally, a motion was passed to call on the government to develop a plan to make GuySuCo viable, in light of its importance to the populace and the fact that it received a $6B subvention this year.
“Be it resolved that this May Day Rally calls on the Government of Guyana to ensure that there is a development of a comprehensive plan for GuySuCo that is feasible and can return the industry to or transform it into a viable economic entity,” the motion read. “GuySuCo is a recipient of subsidies from the national treasury and consequently the people of Guyana. It is in the interest of all Guyanese to ensure that GuySuCo succeeds,” it also said.
Opposition sitting on the fence
Meanwhile, President of GTUC Leslie Gonsalves, in his address, blasted the opposition for being silent on issues affecting bauxite workers.
“The open violation of this law by the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated/RUSAL, a group of Russians with the support of the PPP Executive, as the opposition sits on the fence and finds all reasons not to stand strong in the defence of Guyanese, is to aid and abet the law breaking,” he asserted.
“Today the GTUC is echoing the words of Barack Obama, and calls on the opposition to stop sitting on the fence and not only move to end the Russians’ violation of our sovereignty, but also the abuse of our hospitality…. This society faces a government that is not listening to the voices of the people.
We also see an opposition that in some instances are ignoring our voices,” he added.
He called on the populace to rise up, in united voices, demanding a better life for themselves and their neighbours, because what affects one invariably affects all.