PPP/C Parliamentarian Gillian Persaud-Burton acting on a request from veteran trade unionist Lincoln Lewis has tabled a motion for the re-establishment of a Ministry of Labour.
In a statement on Thursday, the parliamentary opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) explained that in preparation for sitting of the National Assembly on Friday it has submitted three motions including one sponsored by Persaud-Burton and Komal Chand, who is President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU).
The motion notes that the Ministry of Labour which existed before the General Elections of May, 2015 has since become a department within the Ministry of Social Protection headed by a Junior Minister.
It goes on to note that at this year’s May Day rally a call was made for a Motion to be laid in the Assembly in relation to the re-establishment of the Ministry of Labour therefore the Assembly is directed to call on the Government to support the call of the joint trade union movement and restore the Ministry of Labour to its pre-2015 status as soon as possible.
Since 2015 Lewis has been very vocal in his claim that Labour is too important to be just a department. On May Day this year he told workers that “the absence of a Ministry of Labour not only signals the value government places on a country’s most valued resource but also communicates to allies and foes of Guyana that Guyanese are not considered pivotal to the country’s development, and such perception is reinforced with the country’s non-attendance to [the] International Labour Organisation Conference for the past three years.”
Lewis called on Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection Keith Scott, who has responsibility for labour, to have the current administration change the nation’s politics for the better, while imploring Persaud-Burton to “bring a motion in the House seeking the re-establishment of the Ministry of Labour.”
“Labour is prepared to work with you to bring this to fruition and hopes you take this commitment in the spirit of solidarity,” he added.
Attorney General Basil Williams, who was also present, was hailed as a past friend to the labour movement and was encouraged “to use this experience in impressing on his administration the wisdom of having a Ministry of Labour and the benefit of treating Labour as a social partner consistent with Articles 38 and 149C of the Guyana Constitution.”