Why did Akeel choose to go public on an issue which initially could have been discussed with his former colleagues

Dear Editor,

Mr Mohamed Akeel seems to be begging the question on the National Minimum Wage Order. We have seen Mr Akeel’s recent response to our letter dated July 23, 2013 and we are satisfied that rather than being helpful, his second letter, like the first, is intended to embarrass officers in the Ministry of Labour, who would have been trained under his leadership (‘Letter simply pointed to legal deficiencies in the order,’ SN, August 8). In fact, he wants to exhibit his superior knowledge, and it should be so, given his long years as a labour officer; we would have been disappointed if he did not have the skills and competence. Therefore, his skills and competence are not at issue.

We are however disappointed that (1) as a former Chief Labour Officer he chose to go public on an issue which initially could have been discussed with his former colleagues of long years. We can only ask, what was his motive in going public? And we already answered that. Further, setting hours of work for certain categories of workers as he mentioned in his letter concerning the public sector, is not equivalent to setting the national minimum wage or national working hours. He should know that long before this the National Association of Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) had a 40-hour, five-day work week in the sugar industry.

We also indicated that we were conscious of conflicting aspects of the Order as against the Act, and that the issue is being looked at for amendment. So the fulminations of Mr Akeel were unnecessary. Reading his letter, one can only come to the conclusion that brinkmanship is preferred by him rather than constructive dialogue. He has attempted to show his industrial relations acumen has not been lost, but what a vain attempt it is. Imagine in a letter on a labour issue he refers to a ‘green card’ that he does not have. Why lament that? What relevance has it to his letter?

His last interesting paragraph gives us the impression that he is really after the Minister of Labour. After all, he seems to have taken umbrage at the Minister’s attendance at the Guyana Trades Union Congress’s (GTUC’s) Labour Day Rally 2013, which he describes as an opposition rally, and hinted that the Minister should have attended the government rally. The Minister did attend the Federation of Independent Trades Union of Guyana (FITUG) 2013 May Day Rally as well.

We wonder if Mr Akeel is referring to the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union’s (GAWU’s) rally as a government rally and what yardstick he used to describe the TUC’s rally as an ‘opposition’ rally. We also wonder at his reference to the Guyana Public Service Union as a “separatist” union. It must be from his enormous industrial relations experience.

Yours faithfully,
Norris Witter
President
Guyana Trades Union Congress
Kenneth Joseph
General Secretary
National Association of Agricultural
Commercial and Industrial Employees

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