PPP General Secretary Donald Ramotar says the threat to de-recognise the sugar union GAWU emanated from GuySuCo’s management and not from the corporation’s board and was a decision that took him by surprise.
He was speaking yesterday at a party press conference at Freedom House. Ramotar is also a member of the GuySuCo board and was first appointed just after the PPP/C came to power in 1992. The company threat to de-recognise GAWU sparked a furore because of the historic ties between the PPP and the union.
The Government Information Agency (GINA) in a release on Saturday reported President Bharrat Jagdeo as saying that GAWU would not be derecognized by the corporation while his government is in office.
According to the release, Jagdeo said in an invited comment on Friday that while he understood the frustration of the GuySuCo board and management, derecognition would not be entertained by his government.
GuySuCo’s letter to GAWU stated that the corporation was considering the termination of the Recognition and the Avoidance and Settlement of Disputes Agreement of 1976 over the union’s continual flouting of procedures before a strike is called.
GINA said that the President declined to elaborate on the dispute between the corporation and the union, although he did say the matter would be discussed at an internal meeting.
Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud who was with the President in Brazil when GuySuCo sent the letter, also expressed the view that derecognition would not be contemplated, the release stated. He went on to say that he was awaiting a report from GuySuCo Board Chairman, Dr Nanda Gopaul, on the negotiations between GAWU and the corporation’s management.
Meanwhile, the PPP has censured executive member and presidential hopeful Moses Nagamootoo for his recent public statements on GuySuCo’s threat with Ramotar labelling his statement as grandstanding and in bad taste.
GuySuCo’s threat was conveyed to GAWU last Thursday by way of letter and the corporation subsequently sought to clarify on Saturday that the threat pertained only to illegal strikes after the uproar its position caused following media reports.
Nagamootoo in a statement on Sunday called GuySuCo’s threat “intemperate and reckless” and an “extreme provocation.”
“I am shocked that the Government could condone this attack on GAWU and the sugar workers; and that leaders of my party, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), would expect to be in silent conspiracy with this outrage against the vanguard of the working class movement in Guyana. I can no longer remain silent. This is a grave national matter, and one of conscience,” the parliamentarian wrote.
Further he stated, “I dissociate myself from what seems to be a state-party alliance in sledge-hammering GAWU, judging from the leading role of Dr. N.K. Gopaul, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President and former acting Head of the Presidential Secretariat, as Chairman of GuySuCo, and Mr. Donald Ramotar, General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), who is a prominent member of the Board.”
At the briefing yesterday Ramotar said Nagamootoo’s remarks were discussed in the presidential aspirant‘s presence at a meeting on Tuesday and he was issued a verbal warning since he had been present at a meeting where the issue was discussed the day before he made his public statement.
“He was present and he heard the views of the Central Committee in sympathy with the sugar workers and he heard the president’s statement right here in this room expressing very explicitly that that will not happen, the de-recognition of the union, not under his watch according to him. But I extend that to not under a PPP or a PPP/Civic government.
“And yet he went out there kind of grandstanding which people thought was in very very bad taste. I believe his statement was reckless and intemperate in his own words,” Ramotar said.
According to the General Secretary, it was conveyed to Nagamootoo that the Central Committee “strongly disapproved” of his behaviour.