Understand that Govt. is spending taxpayers $$ – Lincoln Lewis
“Fight back against these injustices… we have a civic and moral responsibility to hold government accountable and we must not shirk from it” – Lewis
General Secretary of the Caribbean Congress of Labour, and of the Guyana Trades Union Congress, Lincoln Lewis, has challenged workers to understand that the money being spent to the tune of billions of dollars by the government is theirs; it is the taxpayers’ money.
Lewis made the pronouncement during his Labour Day Rally speech on the lawns of the Critchlow Labour College.
He said that people must stand up and ensure that they are getting value for their money.
“Regrettably, to the detriment of Guyana, the government has been successful in silencing a significant section of non-governmental organizations from bringing public attention to concerns about their welfare, security, management of the country and holding public officials accountable.”
He said that many of the dissenters have been demonized, vilified and immobilized, the messengers attacked and messages ignore and eventually forcing a few murmurs, silence and private condemnation even as local and international headlines and reports scream about the degeneracy destroying the fabric of society.
Lewis charged that there has been the move to deny those media houses that have kept a watchful eye on government, by withdrawing Government advertisement or intimidating others to do so.
“Some of them have been Tony Vieira, once owner of Channel 28 television, Stabroek News, the refusal of the National Frequency Management Unit to obey the Chief Justice’s ruling to issue broadcasting licences to Linden because President (Bharrat) Jagdeo doesn’t want it, and of recent the attacks by the President on Kaieteur News and the curtailment of advertisement.”
Lewis was adamant that workers recognize and understand that “this money is not the government’s… it belongs to all of us and we must equally benefit from it.”
Against that background he urged “Kaieteur News to revisit its decision to not fight back against these injustices. And I ask every Guyanese and group the same thing, for we have a civic and moral responsibility to hold government accountable and we must not shirk from it.”
He warned that there is a clear and present danger facing workers and the trade unions cannot stand by and allow the government to dictate what must be the “weapons in our armory and methods applied to resolve our grievances.”
He said that the government was hard at work seeking to remove the fundamental rights to march, picket, strike, assemble, and associate.
Speaking to the division among the Labour unions in the country, namely those aligned to the GTUC and those to the Federation of Independent Trade Union of Guyana whose rally was held at the National Park, Lewis said that it did not bother him as long as there is unity on principles for fighting for the rights of workers in Guyana.
He challenged also the scores of persons who marched and showed up, from today to commence a march that will mark the beginning of a renewed revolution against what he called an oppressive regime.
Speaking to the Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir whose portfolio deals with the issue at hand, Lewis was not kind in his tongue lashing, calling Nadir, “corrupt…bigoted and racist.”
Speaking directly to workforce Lewis charged that it is up to them to get up and join in the struggle for workers rights.
President of the GTUC, Gillian Burton, called for an education campaign in a bid to have an influx of youth pointing out that the treaded union movement was dying.
Burton also called for the use of technology given the influx of the youth into the union. There must be a modernization of the Trade Union Movement, she said.
“Workers depend on us a leaders,” Burton said and called for the resuscitation of the Critchlow Labour College.