The GTUC-FITUG statement was agreed to by both parties and prepared by both federations

Dear Editor,

Letters by Coretta McDonald (‘No one was authorised to issue a joint statement on GuySuCo by FITUG and GTUC’ SN, April 11) and Eon Andrews (‘GTUC executive had no knowledge of joint statement with FITUG’ CG, April 11) refer.

A time-honoured principle of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is that where there exist differences on issues, rules, roles, etc, internal efforts are first made to reconcile these. The trade union operates by universally accepted principles. The same standard Eon Andrews, GTUC Vice-President, is suggesting was breached in the release of the GTUC/FITUG joint statement should have guided his decision to write on this matter in the public domain without consultation with the executive membership.

The trade union has always advocated the implementation and respect for due process in the workplace by management, in its leadership, and in the management of society. As an organisation and part of its leadership it is dangerous and counterproductive to be advocating and demanding standards for workers, employers, government, etc, and to be operating differently. The same standards the trade union expects, advocates and demands we must be able to practise at our highest level of decision-making.

The principle of solidarity where a trade union gives support to fellow trade unions, workers and all, on matters of universal principles and the rule of law is sacrosanct and cuts across the board, irrespective of who is involved. The GTUC and FITUG met on Friday, 7th April at the GTUC Boardroom where a range of issues were discussed and agreed upon. Included in those were the May Day March and Rally, and the sugar industry vis-à-vis the state of these workers and their affected communities.

The GTUC’s delegation comprised Coretta McDonald (President), Lincoln Lewis (General Secretary), Sherwood Clarke (Executive Council Member), Eon Andrews (Vice-President), Vanessa Phillips (Executive Council Member), and Collis Nicholson (Vice-President). The FITUG’s delegation comprised Seepaul Narine (Vice-President), Nagasar (General Secretary), Haslin Singh (Executive Council Member) and Thomas (Executive Council Member).

On the sugar issue it was agreed that the GTUC and FITUG should issue a joint statement supporting the sugar unions’ (GAWU and NAACIE) position that the Guyana Sugar Corporation(GuySuCo) remain under the administration of the Ministry of Finance. The reason for this and GTUC’s support being, that the unions have reported that notwithstanding  challenges, there has been engagement between the Special Project Unit management and them.

The GTUC recognises the importance of Article 149C of the Guyana Constitution that requires an inclusionary approach in the management and decision-making processes on matters that impact the welfare of the trade union, hence the support, for it augurs well in shared decision-making and ownership for decisions taken.

The GTUC/FITUG statement released to the media by FITUG, which was agreed to by the parties, was prepared by both federations. As General Secretary of the GTUC, which is the executive head of the organisation, that statement was seen by me before release and in principle the content supported, given that it reflected what was discussed and agreed on at the meeting. Further, it did not represent a departure from any of the universally acceptable principles the trade union stands for.

On the notion that authorisation for release of this statement had to come from the President, the GTUC has never been managed in this manner nor does the structure so dictate. The executive responsibility of the GTUC is that of the General Secretary, and in the instance under focus after the delegation had agreed on the matters under discussion and the issuance of a joint statement, the responsibility for execution of the latter is that of the General Secretary. The GTUC President would too be apprised of this according to time-honoured principles and best practices.

Notes of the instant meeting were taken by both parties and can be corroborated.

Yours faithfully,

Lincoln Lewis,

General Secretary, GTUC

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