TUC flays private sector over Amaila stance

The Guyana Trades Union Congress yesterday said that the fallout from the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project brings forcefully to the nation, the disrespect harboured by individuals and groups in the private sector for the people.

The GTUC said, “The (Private Sector Commis-sion’s) recent statement, riddled with name calling and verbal attacks to persons standing up and questioning the conceptualisation and development of the AFHP, has brought to light the inconsistences daily perpetuated by the government and forces the GTUC to believe the PSC is not interested in having the nation’s business conducted consistent with acceptable international standards and probity, but more as the enforcer for corrupt and abusive practices.”

The release said, “Every foreign investment, regardless of circumstance, the private sector is prepared to embrace, even if it requires being a party to denying citizens/ workers their rights and see the plundering/abuses of the nation’s resources. It is therefore not unreasonable to say the PSC’s primary objective is money, since the issue of constitutional rights and the rule of law are not expressed in its vocabulary and upheld in behaviours.

“The GTUC engaged this body two years ago regarding the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) denying workers their right to belong to a union of choice and bargain collectively. This sector gave the GTUC the assurance it will be engaging the government and employer with a view of having this matter resolved and return to us. The GTUC is yet to hear what, if anything, was done. Behind closed doors the PSC accepts the wrong doing of members in the private sector family but refuses to act and correct these injustices. Yet at the same time whenever the government conceptualises a scheme that would bring instant gratification to the executive and private sector the PSC thinks it is incumbent upon the body to treat the citizens like cattle by engaging in acts to herd them in one direction.

“Let it be known the attacks on those raising concerns about the AFHP (those) said concerns were never credibly refuted by the government and the PSC. What is obvious is this body has joined the infantile behaviour of attacking the messengers and ignoring the message. If the PSC knows critics are operating with inadequate information then it has a civic duty to ensure the constitutional right of individual/citizens is respected and all documentation pertaining to the project be given to those analysing it. Let the documents be placed in the public domain, inclusive of the National Assembly, which would allow stakeholders to analyse and make a final determination. In the absence of this, attacking the commentators (and charging) that they are ill informed speaks to a misplaced sense of moneyed arrogance and power.”

The GTUC said that the prime minister is on public record committing to provide requested information and must be called on to honour the commitment.

The GTUC stated that it must be said those analysing the AFHP are not opposed to hydropower. The concern is the project as currently configured is inimical to the economic wellbeing of the nation. As such it is important opinions be expressed with a view of realising a project that satisfies the desires of the people.

The release said, “The principal responsibility to ensure this resides with the president and Mr Ramotar cannot be calling people names and demonising them and expect cooperation or hope to earn the respect and support of those he demonises. He is being advised as the nation’s chief public servant, Massa days are over.”

It said that the national deliberation on the AFHP is no different to the USA deliberation on the Keystone oil pipeline which continues to see analyses, support and criticisms from the legislature and other stakeholders in that society. It noted, “The effort by the USA president to steer said discussions through deliberative tones as he strives for consensus among the various groups is a lesson in quality leadership our president should be encouraged to embrace.”

The GTUC took note of the statement this week by the US Ambassador to Guyana, Brent Hardt  on the Amaila project and quoted the following, “Until recently the project, which has been under development for six years under Sithe Global, appeared to enjoy the implicit support of all political parties. In recent weeks, however, the project suddenly became enmeshed in political battles that had little to do with the potential of the project to generate cheaper, more reliable, and more environmentally friendly energy for decades to come.”

The GTUC stated, “As Guyanese we must recognize, in this instance, the ambassador is looking out for America’s business interest, which is among his role and responsibilities. We must acknowledge this but not be misguided by it. For at the end of the day, it is we, the taxpayers who will have to live with the consequences of a decision of this magnitude not properly thought out and can subject itself to probity. As Guyanese our national interest requires adherence to our constitution, laws, respect for the citizenry and prudent management of our resources.”

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