The Parrot loves the countryside. The lots are fairly large allowing for more than adequate yard space with the most commonly used part being the backyard. Backyard activities in the countryside vary and can be filled with fun. However, there are instances when fun unfortunately evolves into dispute.
A dispute in the backyard can, at times, become very ugly; not used in the context of being the opposite of beautiful. The degeneration from cordiality to conflict can be protracted with regards to time which, in turn, is proportional to the quantity of intoxicants consumed. Sometimes the “ugliness” can be sparked quite easily after the festivity would have reached the “flammable” point.
During this “flammable” point, tempers are easily aroused and DID (Disassociative Identity Disorder) seems to abound. A guest who may be familiar with certain behavioural characteristics of the host may be astonished at the conduct of the said host during the “flammable” period.
The “Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome” readily comes to mind. In this context, I daresay that Guyanese “suffer” from these syndromes since they have given two “personalities” to the word bacchanal: a party or a fight. It is the latter connotation that I would like to expound in the context of the recent debacle surrounding the actions taken by Air Traffic Controllers and their union.
Given what transpired, it is not difficult to label the situation as a bacchanal; a bacchanal that saw Benn and YARDe “trading punches”. Benn was relentless to straighten out the situation and by extension, the defaulters. YARDe was adamant in his opposition to Benn. Benn was convinced that the Controllers were unfair in their demands. YARDe took umbrage to Benn. Benn issued an ultimatum to the Controllers.
YARDe responded with disparaging remarks about Benn. Benn stuck to his guns. YARDe stuck to his. So it was gun sticking from both sides. YARDe picketed Benn whilst awaiting Uncle Bharrat’s return. Benn was unfazed.
Uncle Bharrat supported Benn. The ultimatum deadline was extended.
The Controllers dumped their pickets and YARDe and returned to their tower. YARDe is miffed; and that’s an understatement. The situation begs many questions. Firstly, how did it become an issue? What was the intention of YARDe? Why did he get so involved? These questions are asked against the background of the conditions currently enjoyed by the controllers in comparison to that of the Public Service.
The Controllers, as we surprisingly learnt, earn salaries far in excess of what the general public service receive. Those within the higher end of the salary scale earn some three hundred and ten thousand dollars; more than the President of Guyana and approximately eight times more than the average Public Servant! Over the years they lobbied for improved conditions and got it.
Hadn’t they been successful in their lobbying they would be earning a salary between sixty seven and a hundred thousand dollars which is the equivalent to what they would have received if they had remained within the purview of the Public Service.
Their call for other areas of improvement is currently being addressed by the $780M recapitalisation package. These interventions reflect the priority placed on the entity by government.
How fair is it now for them to make demands for an increase in salaries when they earn far more than many in Guyana? What do they do in relation to the hours spent on the job? How many flights come in per day? Four? Six? How long does it take to direct a plane? Ten Minutes? Thirty minutes? I doubt it. The flights are few and are spread across a twenty-four hour period. How demanding is the job in terms of hours spent? You judge.
Now, I know of the skills that are required to execute such a job; skills that are learnt by on-the-job training. This is not a position that really requires a University graduate. Students who would have been successful at the CSEC examinations are then trained for the job; part of the job is training.
Therefore, these Controllers earn far more than what some University graduates get! Those attending University would have had to spend four years and money to obtain their qualifications. Sometimes getting a job after can be challenging for them. In an effort to benefit from “rosy” salaries they now enjoy, the Controllers were contracted having been removed from the general Public Service.
How much influence then does YARDe have on them? YARDe has tried to give the impression that he is concerned about the welfare of workers. If this is to be believed, then did he consider the consequences of his irresponsible call for strike action which could have led to the termination of the Controllers?
Did he consider that when he called for strike action baggage handlers, airport staff including those associated with the lounge, taxi and minibus drivers, resort and hotel staff and others were affected? Is this his way of demonstrating how concerned he is about these workers? Split personalities? Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome?
It seems clear that YARDe feels his position is being threatened and would rush to confront issues in which he obviously has no real authority. It seems that he has reached that “flammable” point to which it is easier to be propelled into controversy.
He is either totally oblivious of the circumstances surrounding the working conditions and responsibilities of the Air Traffic Controllers or underestimated Benn. Both seem correct.
When one is in the backyard it’s difficult, or even impossible to see what’s happening in front.
I am convinced that YARDe spent his time in the “backyard”, rendering him incapable of “seeing” what was happening on the frontline of the Air Traffic Controllers. I recall that sometime in the past he accused government of engineering a reduction in union fees payable to his union, and, by extension, a reduction in membership; an estimate of a two thirds reduction; a third is left. If true, then “YARDe” has been reduced to a “foot”; a “flammable” point scenario.
Or is it a case of giving him a YARDe, he wants an airport; another “flammable” point scenario? The “ugliness” that led to the bacchanal could have been avoided YARDe; avoid the “flammable” points.