Veteran trade unionist Leslie Melville passed away on Monday, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) announced.
The GPSU said that Melville died at 03:20 am Maryland, USA time. It added that Melville, AA served the trade union movement with distinction for over fifty years.
It said that he served as General Secretary, Education Officer and Consultant of the Guyana Public Service Union, Principal Assistant Secretary Guyana Trades Union Congress, Registrar of the Critchlow Labour College, GPSU Representative on the Public Service Appellate Tribunal and Commissioner of the Public Service Commission.
“He was not only a great Trade Unionist but also a great Guyanese who was honoured with a National Award, the Golden Arrowhead of Achievement”, the GPSU declared.
He is survived by his wife, Leila Bibi Melville and four children, Ferril, Patrick, Gelline and David.
The Guyana Public Service Union expressed its condolences to the family and friends of Melville.
A Book of Condolence was opened at the GPSU Headquarters, 160 Regent & Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Bourda, Georgetown from Thursday February 12, 2015 and will remain open up to Saturday February 14, 2015 up to 15:00 hrs.
A wake/night of reflection was also to be held at the Union’s headquarters last evening.
Melville, who co-authored a labour column in Stabroek News for some time with trade unionist Lincoln Lewis, had fervently advocated on behalf of trade unionism and had also staunchly sought trade union unity and national reconciliation.
In one of this last letters to Stabroek News on February 5th 2009 entitled `It should be the mission of the trade union leaders to rekindle the spirit of ’53’ Melville wrote:
“I just received a copy of an article titled ‘Controversial trades union bill passed’ by Andre Haynes (SN January 9).
“It would appear that both the political and trade union leadership of our bleeding country are hell bent in pursuing their objective – the destruction of the green land of Guyana. This, sadly, at a time when the whole world is crying for change.
“Relative to the political leadership, it appears as if the current leadership of the PPP buried the spirit of inclusion at Babu John nearly twelve years ago. I say this, Editor, because upon assuming office in 1992 Dr Jagan immediately reintroduced dialogue with the Trade Union Movement via joint meetings with GTUC and FITUG. Then in February 1993, came the tripartite committee which comprised CAGI, the GTUC/FITUG and the Minister/Ministry of Labour. That was what Oscar Johnson, the then Principal of Critchlow Labour College had in 1972 termed a structural channel of intercourse.
“Editor, if there was one person who should have made it his mission to destroy the TUC, it was Dr Jagan. He did not. I guess the current leadership of the PPP lacks that broadness of mind, which seems to be lacking today.
“How long must the people of Guyana suffer from the agony inflicted on our people on that sad day in February 1955, when the spirit of ’53 was so shamelessly destroyed?
“My final remarks are directed to the GTUC President, Gillian Burton and FITUG’s President, Kenneth Joseph.
“The Trade Union Movement is the only brake in the hands of the people that can be used in curbing the excesses of the political directorate, whenever they arise.
Think seriously of this, for history will not think kindly of you and what you are doing today. I can only pray that the spirit of Critchlow lives on in your hearts. You are the keepers of the movement he fathered.
Yet of greater importance, you must make it your mission to rekindle that spirit of ’53. It’s Guyana’s only hope. Here GAWU has a great part to play.”