May 01, 2009 knews Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon Comments Off on The Trade Union Movement and ghosts talking from the grave When it comes to the first day of a new month, as my hands move on the keyboard and as my thoughts wonder and wander on this page, I think of time moving on and I keep this little candle burning in a locked-away corner of my mind. Its flames give off the colour of hope; hope of perseverance, hope of endurance, hope of assurance. It is indeed the audacity of hope in a country that has definitely become one of the saddest tragedies of the post-colonial world. Tomorrow, Zimbabwe will embrace its future. It was Kenya’s turn yesterday. It was the American turn last November. When will Guyana’s turn come? The great anti-fascist, Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci once wrote that, “The Optimism of the Will must override the Pessimism of the Intellect.” The leader of Sein Fein, the political wing of the now disbanded, Irish Republican Army, made that statement his mantra as the Irish nationalists struggled with their claims of a united Ireland. All around this nation are broken dreams and burdened souls merged in a confluence of the déjà vu of yesterday’s angst. For those too young to remember the poetry embedded in the zeitgeist of the seventies where a Janet Jagan and a Walter Rodney serenaded each other with a post-colonial passion of effervescence and liberation, their tomorrow is saddled on the horse of winged impulse. They will leave and they will embrace Obama’s audacity of hope. Some may even touch the rhythm of a Caribbean beach. Other will withstand the Alaskan wind in Ontario. But they will leave and they will leave Mr. Jagdeo to bask in his post-presidential luxury. And they will leave us, the older ones to live a life of reflection of an unchanging Guyana. They will leave us with the optimism of Barack Obama. Addressing his press conference on achieving a hundred days in office, Mr. Obama told the gathering of an American politic motif that drove despair in Guyanese who listened to him. He said American politics moves quickly and reminded them that he was 30 points below Mrs. Clinton in the Iowa primary. He didn’t go on but we know what happened; he won the Iowa contest. In Guyana, politics moves at a dangerously slow pace. And as we walk in the May Day rally today, that observation of President Obama and that cruel reality of Guyana will be on the face of all of us. It will torment us because we want our politics to move as fast as it does in the US but we know it will not. As we move off from a site Forbes Burnham arrogantly renamed (Parade Ground), we will think of Burnham and his rule and the shadows of the new Burnhams will hover behind us. We will turn into Critchlow Labour College, while the new Burnhams will go to the National Park. Many ghosts will be turning in their graves as the TUC procession perambulates the streets of Georgetown Growing up, I knew that in the trade union movement Mr. Burnham’s property was the GLU, Dr. Jagan’s personal possession was GAWU. Mr. Burnham and Mr. Desmond Hoyte must be shouting out from the grave. Mr. Carvil Duncan remains the head of the GLU and the union is now part of the shamelessly pro- government grouping, FITUG. Another figure reaching from his burial site will be the famous and respected unionist, Gordon Todd. He was one of the founders of FITUG, a movement designed to take the true trade union movement away the tentacles of the dictators in Guyana who disregarded workers’ rights. The bitter irony is that those barefaced pro-government unions that drink at the trough of state patronage have had the diseased boldness to use the name of a trade union group whose reason for existence was to fight against political domination of the trade union movement. But however conspiratorial are the habits of the pro-government labour aristocracy that has taken the workers into FITUG, what about the workers themselves? If Mr. Duncan has his reasons for seeking the company of the new Burnhams, why are the workers of the GLU still have him as their head? Could you imagine the leader of GAWU taking GAWU out of the den of Freedom House? Of course both unions should long have been outside the cage of their political bosses. As the TUC and FITUG go their separate routes today, slow movement in Guyana is giving rise to optimism. Gordon Todd has spoken from the grave and has told CCWU to get out of FITUG.When it comes to the first day of a new month, as my hands move on the keyboard and as my thoughts wonder and wander on this page, I think of time moving on and I keep this little candle burning in a...
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