Jagdeo criticises Chand over cooperation with gov’t

-but says ‘no rift’ between party, GAWU

Although stressing that there is “no rift” between the PPP and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday criticised the cooperative stance taken by union leader Komal Chand following a recent meeting with government on restructuring the sugar industry and managing the impact on workers.

“This is a government—How can you find them genuine, when they have just sent home 7,000 of your members? But this didn’t come from GAWU,” Jagdeo said, while arguing that the APNU+AFC administration was using GAWU and the National Association of Agricultural , Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) for public relations purposes.

During a response to questions at a press conference yesterday, Jagdeo took issue with a statement made by Chand, which was reported by the Ministry of the Presidency after the January 19th meeting.

The meeting was organised after approxmately 4,763 workers were severed by GuySuCo at the end of December last year and the government faced severe criticism for not having options in place for them or evaluating the social impact of the job losses on their communities. It has also been pilloried for shutting the unions out from the decision-making and over its unpreparedness to pay severance immediately to all the workers.

“We have listened and we are satisfied that you are concerned with the issues. We are ready to work along with the Government to explore the options and we are going to give our best to see the situation out. You are right that there are no winners in this and we are willing… We are certainly pleased with this meeting. This is the first meeting [for the year] we have been able to have with the Government and we believe that the meeting took place in a positive atmosphere and we recognise that the Government itself pays attention and I think that it is a good beginning. That is certainly important ground rule that we dialogue, that we talk and try to find an answer for the way forward. We are pleased. From GAWU, we are very pleased and it spells out that the future engagement are in the interest of the workers, the industry and the country,” Chand, who is also a serving Member of Parliament for the opposition PPP/C, was quoted as saying by the ministry.

Jagdeo read Chand’s comments during the press conference yesterday.

“I have issues, personal issues with these sort of statements, because it means that all that has gone before… how many times have we tried to engage this government or tried to ask for studies to be done? GAWU itself put forward a proposal. They ignored the proposal. They ignored their own [Commission of Inquiry], ignored the recommendations of the consultations we had, ignored our request for it to be debated at the Economic Services Committee, sent home the people callously in the middle of Christmas and not paying them their severance and you find them still a good partner to talk with?” he said.

Jagdeo stated that based on the statement released by ministry, he was concerned that the government is using the union for public relations purposes. “…Government got a huge PR thing out of this,” he stressed.

He said that after all that has happened, he was amazed that GAWU sees government “as a good partner to talk with,” even though almost half of its membership was decimated and left with no promise of help in the future.

“The unions came away with nothing and the government came out with a wonderful statement… big photo op,” Jagdeo said, while questioning the future that is being talked about.

He said that he has huge issues with this and not the unions. He insisted that the PPP will continue to support GAWU. “You have a lot of good, strong, young, bright leaders of GAWU who will have a great future in building that union and keeping it relevant,” he noted.

Although stressing that there is “no rift” between the PPP and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday criticised the cooperative stance taken by union leader Komal Chand following a recent meeting with government on restructuring the sugar industry and managing the impact on workers.

“This is a government—How can you find them genuine, when they have just sent home 7,000 of your members? But this didn’t come from GAWU,” Jagdeo said, while arguing that the APNU+AFC administration was using GAWU and the National Association of Agricultural , Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) for public relations purposes.

During a response to questions at a press conference yesterday, Jagdeo took issue with a statement made by Chand, which was reported by the Ministry of the Presidency after the January 19th meeting.

The meeting was organised after approxmately 4,763 workers were severed by GuySuCo at the end of December last year and the government faced severe criticism for not having options in place for them or evaluating the social impact of the job losses on their communities. It has also been pilloried for shutting the unions out from the decision-making and over its unpreparedness to pay severance immediately to all the workers.

“We have listened and we are satisfied that you are concerned with the issues. We are ready to work along with the Government to explore the options and we are going to give our best to see the situation out. You are right that there are no winners in this and we are willing… We are certainly pleased with this meeting. This is the first meeting [for the year] we have been able to have with the Government and we believe that the meeting took place in a positive atmosphere and we recognise that the Government itself pays attention and I think that it is a good beginning. That is certainly important ground rule that we dialogue, that we talk and try to find an answer for the way forward. We are pleased. From GAWU, we are very pleased and it spells out that the future engagement are in the interest of the workers, the industry and the country,” Chand, who is also a serving Member of Parliament for the opposition PPP/C, was quoted as saying by the ministry.

Jagdeo read Chand’s comments during the press conference yesterday.

“I have issues, personal issues with these sort of statements, because it means that all that has gone before… how many times have we tried to engage this government or tried to ask for studies to be done? GAWU itself put forward a proposal. They ignored the proposal. They ignored their own [Commission of Inquiry], ignored the recommendations of the consultations we had, ignored our request for it to be debated at the Economic Services Committee, sent home the people callously in the middle of Christmas and not paying them their severance and you find them still a good partner to talk with?” he said.

Jagdeo stated that based on the statement released by ministry, he was concerned that the government is using the union for public relations purposes. “…Government got a huge PR thing out of this,” he stressed.

He said that after all that has happened, he was amazed that GAWU sees government “as a good partner to talk with,” even though almost half of its membership was decimated and left with no promise of help in the future.

“The unions came away with nothing and the government came out with a wonderful statement… big photo op,” Jagdeo said, while questioning the future that is being talked about.

He said that he has huge issues with this and not the unions. He insisted that the PPP will continue to support GAWU. “You have a lot of good, strong, young, bright leaders of GAWU who will have a great future in building that union and keeping it relevant,” he noted.

Although stressing that there is “no rift” between the PPP and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday criticised the cooperative stance taken by union leader Komal Chand following a recent meeting with government on restructuring the sugar industry and managing the impact on workers.

“This is a government—How can you find them genuine, when they have just sent home 7,000 of your members? But this didn’t come from GAWU,” Jagdeo said, while arguing that the APNU+AFC administration was using GAWU and the National Association of Agricultural , Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) for public relations purposes.

During a response to questions at a press conference yesterday, Jagdeo took issue with a statement made by Chand, which was reported by the Ministry of the Presidency after the January 19th meeting.

The meeting was organised after approxmately 4,763 workers were severed by GuySuCo at the end of December last year and the government faced severe criticism for not having options in place for them or evaluating the social impact of the job losses on their communities. It has also been pilloried for shutting the unions out from the decision-making and over its unpreparedness to pay severance immediately to all the workers.

“We have listened and we are satisfied that you are concerned with the issues. We are ready to work along with the Government to explore the options and we are going to give our best to see the situation out. You are right that there are no winners in this and we are willing… We are certainly pleased with this meeting. This is the first meeting [for the year] we have been able to have with the Government and we believe that the meeting took place in a positive atmosphere and we recognise that the Government itself pays attention and I think that it is a good beginning. That is certainly important ground rule that we dialogue, that we talk and try to find an answer for the way forward. We are pleased. From GAWU, we are very pleased and it spells out that the future engagement are in the interest of the workers, the industry and the country,” Chand, who is also a serving Member of Parliament for the opposition PPP/C, was quoted as saying by the ministry.

Jagdeo read Chand’s comments during the press conference yesterday.

“I have issues, personal issues with these sort of statements, because it means that all that has gone before… how many times have we tried to engage this government or tried to ask for studies to be done? GAWU itself put forward a proposal. They ignored the proposal. They ignored their own [Commission of Inquiry], ignored the recommendations of the consultations we had, ignored our request for it to be debated at the Economic Services Committee, sent home the people callously in the middle of Christmas and not paying them their severance and you find them still a good partner to talk with?” he said.

Jagdeo stated that based on the statement released by ministry, he was concerned that the government is using the union for public relations purposes. “…Government got a huge PR thing out of this,” he stressed.

He said that after all that has happened, he was amazed that GAWU sees government “as a good partner to talk with,” even though almost half of its membership was decimated and left with no promise of help in the future.

“The unions came away with nothing and the government came out with a wonderful statement… big photo op,” Jagdeo said, while questioning the future that is being talked about.

He said that he has huge issues with this and not the unions. He insisted that the PPP will continue to support GAWU. “You have a lot of good, strong, young, bright leaders of GAWU who will have a great future in building that union and keeping it relevant,” he noted.

‘No rift’

Jagdeo told reporters that the PPP has always supported the unions. To reiterate this point, he said recently he spoke at Enterprise during a meeting with retrenched sugar workers and GAWU’s General Secretary Seepaul Narine was by his side.

“So the PPP will always support GAWU and I don’t know about this conflict, the contrived thing. I saw Chronicle has been pushing this issue about a conflict between the PPP and GAWU… there is nothing of the sort,” he said, while stressing that there is “no rift” between his party and the union.

He distanced the party from a recent Guyana Times report, which said sugar workers were calling on Chand to step down. He did, however, say that the same support the party showed to the union, would not be extended to individuals. He added that the sugar workers pay their dues, determine their leadership and are free to call for their removal at any time. “That is not the PPP’s business,” he said.

Jagdeo also bashed government for meeting with laid off sugar workers in Region Four and Region Six on Friday, saying that the meetings offered nothing new and no hope for those affected. “Almost the entire AFC visited the sugar belt to continue to lie to sugar workers and to earn their keep in the government,” he said before questioning the usefulness of such engagements.

“None of the issues that were raised by the team, large teams that went to these estates was anything new or brought any further benefits to the sugar workers,” he stressed.

He accused government of substituting public relations for real action when it comes to the sugar industry. “It is naive to believe that the sugar workers will receive any significant help from this government,” he added, while pointing out that the president’s recent announcement of a restructuring of the Guyana Defence Force does not mirror earlier comments that there is no money in the treasury.

He said that the revamp will cost government billion of dollars. “So you can’t find $5 billion for the sugar workers … [but] he has just announced a multi-billion dollar future investment programme for buying air crafts and all of this stuff for the military,” he added.Jagdeo told reporters that the PPP has always supported the unions. To reiterate this point, he said recently he spoke at Enterprise during a meeting with retrenched sugar workers and GAWU’s General Secretary Seepaul Narine was by his side.

“So the PPP will always support GAWU and I don’t know about this conflict, the contrived thing. I saw Chronicle has been pushing this issue about a conflict between the PPP and GAWU… there is nothing of the sort,” he said, while stressing that there is “no rift” between his party and the union.

He distanced the party from a recent Guyana Times report, which said sugar workers were calling on Chand to step down. He did, however, say that the same support the party showed to the union, would not be extended to individuals. He added that the sugar workers pay their dues, determine their leadership and are free to call for their removal at any time. “That is not the PPP’s business,” he said.

Jagdeo also bashed government for meeting with laid off sugar workers in Region Four and Region Six on Friday, saying that the meetings offered nothing new and no hope for those affected. “Almost the entire AFC visited the sugar belt to continue to lie to sugar workers and to earn their keep in the government,” he said before questioning the usefulness of such engagements.

“None of the issues that were raised by the team, large teams that went to these estates was anything new or brought any further benefits to the sugar workers,” he stressed.

He accused government of substituting public relations for real action when it comes to the sugar industry. “It is naive to believe that the sugar workers will receive any significant help from this government,” he added, while pointing out that the president’s recent announcement of a restructuring of the Guyana Defence Force does not mirror earlier comments that there is no money in the treasury.

He said that the revamp will cost government billion of dollars. “So you can’t find $5 billion for the sugar workers … [but] he has just announced a multi-billion dollar future investment programme for buying air crafts and all of this stuff for the military,” he added.Jagdeo told reporters that the PPP has always supported the unions. To reiterate this point, he said recently he spoke at Enterprise during a meeting with retrenched sugar workers and GAWU’s General Secretary Seepaul Narine was by his side.

“So the PPP will always support GAWU and I don’t know about this conflict, the contrived thing. I saw Chronicle has been pushing this issue about a conflict between the PPP and GAWU… there is nothing of the sort,” he said, while stressing that there is “no rift” between his party and the union.

He distanced the party from a recent Guyana Times report, which said sugar workers were calling on Chand to step down. He did, however, say that the same support the party showed to the union, would not be extended to individuals. He added that the sugar workers pay their dues, determine their leadership and are free to call for their removal at any time. “That is not the PPP’s business,” he said.

Jagdeo also bashed government for meeting with laid off sugar workers in Region Four and Region Six on Friday, saying that the meetings offered nothing new and no hope for those affected. “Almost the entire AFC visited the sugar belt to continue to lie to sugar workers and to earn their keep in the government,” he said before questioning the usefulness of such engagements.

“None of the issues that were raised by the team, large teams that went to these estates was anything new or brought any further benefits to the sugar workers,” he stressed.

He accused government of substituting public relations for real action when it comes to the sugar industry. “It is naive to believe that the sugar workers will receive any significant help from this government,” he added, while pointing out that the president’s recent announcement of a restructuring of the Guyana Defence Force does not mirror earlier comments that there is no money in the treasury.

He said that the revamp will cost government billion of dollars. “So you can’t find $5 billion for the sugar workers … [but] he has just announced a multi-billion dollar future investment programme for buying air crafts and all of this stuff for the military,” he added.

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