May Day in Linden now completely overshadowed by Town Week

Dear Editor,

May Day in Linden came and went as per usual, since the advent of Town Week – there was nothing especially noticeable, it all went by like a gentle breeze overshadowed by Town Week activities. However credit must be given to two sections of workers, those in the postal/communications and the Linden Hospital Complex who have over the years though very few in numbers kept the faith.

Editor, I need to restate some things I said some years ago as regards to Labour Day celebrations: That this “Town once the bulwark of Trade Union militancy and workers solidarity, today remains in a state of paralysis. Since the extension of the Town’s birthday celebration from a Town day event to a Town-week even coinciding with the Labour Day celebration, it has contributed to the diminishing of Labour Day, relegating it to insignificance. Over this period in question there were times when not a sound was heard; not a drum beat nor a note from a bugle. Also a good thing that has been lost with the absence and low-key turn out at May Day rallies is the fun, amusement and joy derived from preferred remarks on placards; the criticism, and ironies, the creative expressions of sharp minds which are churned out on this day are now rare. However those two outstanding and contrasting ones that were exhibited in the city were delightful: “we shall overcome very soon”, this was so optimistic and full of hope; and the other: “one day the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich”, this one rather witty, profound and somewhat provoking and indeed food for the thought. Question is: why should this very important historical event that has championed the cause of workers the world over through the Trade Unions become so ragged and appear to be on the verge of being extinguished? Why should a movement upon which the foundation of humanity and civilization was built; a movement which in many regards brought about the liberation and consequently the advancement of the working class been so convinced? Though weak are many Trade Unions today, the power of the workers inexorably still resides in their collective strength/effort which is forever a formidable force, as the labour anthem so correctly states: “When the union inspiration through the workers blood shall run there can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun…”

But what I find strange and somewhat contradictory Editor, is that the Linden Town Week’s stated objective is to promote and improve in the various disciplines/areas higher/better standards; job creation, decent remuneration; improved working conditions and ultimately by extension the stability and well-being of the community. With such stated objectives how then could a 10 days/65 events celebration be crafted with Labour Day being in the centre of it all and no allowance being made for it – no room for one of the most noble of human endeavours? Could we be that serious!? While we hear of grandiloquent talks of plans/dreams with high hopes and expectations, a wide range of investments, proposals and a glorious future for a take-off we need also to be in a sort of prepared state so that raw advantage is not taken of us. I can testify to the fact of workers within the community complaining of unfair treatment and various forms of grievances and expressing frustration of not knowing, where or who to approach to have them addressed, a rather unfortunate situation, many having lost faith in union leaders. And it is really not nice that workers have lost sight of that which has historically been the major force attending to their interest. I often wondered aloud why in spite of the loss of interest and brazen disregard for unions shown by workers; their often ineffectiveness, especially in hard-core traditional places/sectors; why aren’t the executives within the hierarchy themselves not exhibiting spirited and palpable interest in rekindling afresh, trade union activism that can engender some new vigour for those fortunate few employed?

I refuse to believe that the organisers of Town Week fail to see the relevance/nexus and significance of Labour Day celebration in the Town Week programme, how could they in their deliberations overlook such an important event. Though mentioned above it has lost its vitality, it is still the main pillar on which the ordinary working man has to cling for a better quality living standard. Lindeners being no different. Lindeners are a resourceful bunch with a rich fighting background rooted in the mining of bauxite, they can make things happen, can change the entire configuration of what ought to be, this is why leaders have to be very careful and attentive, especially with the young and upcoming, who-sad to say-seemed to have a terrible misdirection, some not even mindful of any direction period. Their perception of things seemed all twisted and incomprehensible and the state/quality of the labour movement is not helping period. I find the fullness and relevance of the labour movement in a quote I saw which says: “The universe doesn’t give you what you want with your thoughts – it gives you what you demand with your actions.” Thus I say trade unions must return to old school practices.

But I guess that maybe the reason for which this grand labour movement was formed has very little or nothing remaining of service to us. Maybe those who were slaughtered in Chicago on the 1st May, 1886: “The Haymarket Martyrs” in the fight for better human/working conditions and a eight hours working day instead of 12/16 hours can shake their bones in gladness that workers in a land called – Guyana are reaping the benefit of their sacrifice, doing so exceedingly fine that there’s no more any need for the Labour Movement.

Yours faithfully,

Frank Fyffe

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