UG unions have a moral obligation to debunk Lewis’s statement on my involvement

Dear Editor,

I have consistently made two points in my exchanges with Lincoln Lewis. The first is that he will obfuscate the harmful betrayal of workers’ rights at UG by the TUC by making me the issue. He continues to do that, while in the media, the exposure of maladministration at UG goes on with E.B. John being the latest contributor. In the meantime, the unions continue to publish press releases on what is taking place at UG.

The second point is that I have argued that Lewis will continue to get away with horrible governance in the TUC because in a dead society like Guyana, no one is willing to expose him. It was this columnist that first brought to the attention of the nation what positions the TUC’s representative, Ivor English, was taking in the UG Council, and Lewis’ protection of English. Since then, the unions have enumerated the acts of bias against workers by the TUC in the UG Council and have threatened to delink from the TUC.

Eon Andrews, Vice-President of the TUC, contacted me with a promise to expose Lewis. He said the week ending June 2, he would have sent his publication to the press. He hasn’t as yet.

UG staff members told me that the unions are livid at Lewis’ accusation that I am the main factor in the UG dispute because it shows he disrespects their struggle. But they are yet to pen a denunciation of Lewis’ attitude. If they don’t, Lewis will feel he has immunity in impugning the struggle of the two unions.

Now here is another perversity of Lewis’, for which the media and the entire country should react to. On Wednesday, Lewis met the leadership of the two unions and produced a document for them to sign, in which they would agree that in the relationship with the TUC in the UG Council, they will abstain from writing on UG issues involving the TUC in the media. This man is twisted and the faster the Guyanese people see him for what he is, the sooner they should ask for his replacement in the TUC.

The unions have refused Lewis’ demand and will not sign such an undemocratic paper. It is unheard of that the central trade union body of a country would ask its constituents not to inform the nation through the press of industrial violations by employers. Lewis’ request is so repugnant that trade unionists, the media, and the society in general, need to react to it. It is not coming from a state agency, but a body that is tasked with representing the interests of workers.

Let me say emphatically: I get news of what the unions are doing from the circulation of information by the unions to UG staff. They inform the staff of every meeting they attend in and off of campus.  For years now, I have not been in any discussion with the two unions on industrial relations at UG. Surely, it has to be a moral obligation on the part of the two unions to debunk Lewis’s statement on my involvement. If left unattended, then the unions are admitting to Lewis’s claim of my conspiracy. It boggles the mind that the head of the TUC could point to a personality that is directing an industrial dispute at an important institution, and the union’s leadership, knowing that it is a nasty fiction, would not correct it for the nation.

The unions must see that they stand to lose credibility with their employers, who would lose respect for them and harden their attitudes. How do the unions know that the Vice-Chancellor and the Council have not lost respect for them because they have Freddie Kissoon using them as puppets?  As late as Thursday, June 6, in his Stabroek News’ letter, Lewis repeated this belief of Kissoon’s hand in the current stand-off at UG between administration and unions.

I close by asserting that I am glad Lewis thinks my contract termination at UG was valid. There are people in this country who are destroying their own legacies. Guyana is certainly going through a moral crisis.

Yours faithfully,

Frederick Kissoon

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