Government has contrasting approach to BCGI workers from sugar workers

Dear Editor,

The GAWU has seen in several sections of the media reports about the recent interaction between the Ministers of Natural Resources, among others, meeting with the workers of the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI). The engagement has sadly been occasioned by the sanctions which has included Rusal in its sweep and which drives home in a very real way how connected as a world and people we are. The fact is that workers in Guyana could be reduced to mere hapless victims by the actions and decisions of others thousands of miles away.

Our union hopes that the worst is not realized and should the worst come about that some arrangement could be put in place to ensure that the workers retain their jobs with decent rates-of-pay and acceptable conditions of work. We were also pleased to learn that the government, from what we saw in the media, has committed to standing by the workers who undoubtedly have found themselves between a rock and a hard place. The involvement of the workers organization representative is also a welcome sign and would serve to ensure that the workers’ interests are safeguarded.

While heartened by what we regard as an almost instantaneous response by government to the threat posed to the BCGI workers, we at the same time, recognise the dichotomy in regard to the approach to the plight of the thousands of the now jobless workers in the sugar industry. The situation facing thousands of families and scores of communities in the sugar belt has not been occasioned by external forces, but is the doing of those who are entrusted with ensuring that all Guyanese can live a decent and respectable life.

We saw in the April 26, 2018 Guyana Chronicle, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman is quoted to have said “[t]he government of Guyana has a duty to stand and work with you to save your jobs”. It is a statement that we cannot disagree with but we wonder why such sentiments were apparently absent as the administration, of which Minister Trotman is a high-ranking member, considered and later implemented what could only be described as a cruel, heartless and callous policy to minimize the sugar industry and put thousands of workers on the breadline; dash the aspirations and dreams of too many innocent children; and push back the progress in several communities.

Indeed when one looks at the two situations, from all appearances it seems, that the government has turned its back on this group of Guyanese who find themselves in the most difficult of circumstances. Without a doubt the sugar workers and their families and their communities would also wish for the coalition government, which promised them a ‘Good Life’, to put their minds at ease and to tell them that tomorrow will be better than the dreadful nightmare of today.

As we see the contrasting approaches being deployed by the administration in the two industries this is not a situation of apples and oranges, but we wish to remind our government that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander too!

Yours faithfully,

Seepaul Narine

General Secretary

GAWU

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