Due to loss of confidence in the representation provided by the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU), which is the present certified union representing non-management employees of Oldendorff Carriers Guyana Inc, on February 2, 2011 over one hundred of the said employees sent an application to the Guyana Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board seeking the cancellation of the certificate of recognition issued to the GB&GWU. To accommodate the process for determining the employees‘ choice for new union representation, the majority of non-management unionized employees have withdrawn their membership of the GB&GWU, which now has only fifteen employees as members.
One hundred and thirty-one employees have now joined the People’s United and General Workers Union (PU&GWU), which has applied for a certificate of recognition.
In May 2011, Mr Oswald Prince, General President of the PU&GWU and an employee of Oldendorff Carriers Guyana Inc, used my cell phone to contact Mr Charles Ogle, Secretary of the Guyana Trade Union Recognition and Certifica-tion Board and Assistant Chief Labour Officer within the Ministry of Labour, to inquire about the status of the application.
Mr Prince informed the PU&GWU Executive that Mr Ogle had told him he didn’t have to call because the Board would write him. He went on to say that the law said the Board had four months to respond to the application, and that he also needed to bear in mind that the (RUSAL) issue with the GB&GWU had been on-going for more than a year.
The executive officer felt that the response by Mr Ogle had been negative, and in July this year the union contacted the recognition board in an effort to find a way forward.
The Board then indicated to the union that important information would be needed from Oldendroff, and an effort would be made to obtain the required information.
The information was requested by Mr Ogle, but it was not sufficient to make a decision. On August 22, 2011, Mr Prem Persaud, Chairman of the recognition board requested and received the information required, but the life of the board ended on August 31, 2011.
On September 10, 2011 the PU&GWU sent a letter via email to Mr Manzoor Nadir, Minister of Labour, about the situation, which Mr Nadir said he would follow up.
The PU&GWU gives its support to the statements of Patrick Yarde, President of the GPSU, in an interview in the Guyana Times of July 13 who said that the GPSU was struggling to find leaders. “They ain’t able put up with the struggle,” Mr Yarde said. He referred to the massive turnover of union leaders, and that many of these persons had given up since they believed that their efforts had been in vain.
Yarde said he felt that the first step forward should be the introduction of a code of conduct among the unions. He was confident that unity in the labour movement was possible, but may only happen with a new generation of trade unionists.
The PU&GWU was registered under the Trade Union Act Chapter 98.03 early this year, and the Executive Council comprises twelve young persons (a new generation of trade unionists) who have a vision and a new approach to deal with all aspects of worker-employer issues.
The union is already in the process of having its executives and members trained and educated locally and overseas in modern trade union practices, eg negotiation, conflict resolution, labour laws, etc.
The PU&GWU does not adopt a stance of conflict in relation to the Government of Guyana or any of the companies where the union is seeking members.
If there are regular work stoppages, conflicts and confrontation between the parties, they may not gain, eg, government will lose revenue, the companies will suffer losses, workers will lose pay and benefits, and the union will not receive union dues, etc.
In closing, the PU&GWU stands by its motto ‘United we stand divided we fall.’ Further we promise to produce a new vision and union practices, and introduce a generation of modern-thinking leaders to Guyana who would better the conditions of workers, while we prepare for the introduction of a code of conduct among the unions.
Micah Alister Williams
The People United and
General Workers Union