– waving a transport means nothing-Corbin
The Guyana Public Service Union says it is mobilizing its members to confront what it described as executive lawlessness by the government.
President of the union, Patrick Yarde, made the disclosure yesterday at a press conference at which leading members of political parties and at least one other trade union expressed solidarity with the GPSU over the seizure of a plot of land that purportedly belongs to the Guyana Public Service Union.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Public Works under the protection of heavily armed police ranks, moved in and forcibly reclaimed the land that houses the GPSU Sports club ground despite protestations from the union.
Yarde told the press conference that the union will not be mobilizing its ranks in ignorance and will be enlightening members especially those who are new to the organization so that they will have an appreciation of what they are up against and how to deal with it effectively.
This, he said, is necessary since most of the members are new and are not familiar with the struggles the union has had with the administration in the past.
Additionally, the GPSU President stated that the union has started an international process in which organizations around the world are being sensitized about the “clear display of executive lawlessness on the part of the government”.
Yesterday’s press conference which was attended by Opposition Leader Robert Corbin; Working People’s Alliance members Desmond Trotman and Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, and Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green, was occasioned by what Yarde described as disturbing circumstances.
“We are happy with the response of various organizations as a display of solidarity because we see this as a very serious development and one that requires a national response,” Yarde said.
Apart from those present to give solidarity to the union, General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union, Komal Chand, in a statement read by Yarde, stated that he was astonished at the turn of events and expressed his support for the GPSU.
“He even shared with me the occasions that he visited the sports complex,” Yarde said.
Chand’s union is also embroiled in a bitter wage dispute with the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation.
PNCR Leader Robert Corbin described the actions of the government against the union as “most reprehensible”.
“This assault on the workers of Guyana in this way does not set a good example for the future stability of this country and we urge that the government reconsiders this irresponsible action,” Corbin said.
Dr. Rupert Roopnarine pointed out that while he is aware that the government has been carrying out an assault on the GPSU, he is surprised that it has taken such a turn.
He expressed the hope that the court will act as fast as the Lands and Surveys Commission which was responsible for the arbitrary demarcation of the land.
Speaking in his capacity of a former Minister in the Burnham regime, Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green, told the press conference that it is an unbelievable and unacceptable assault on justice and lawfulness that appears to be fitting into an evolving pattern leading to hegemony by a government that had boasted about a return to democracy.
He recalled the 1970s when the then Cabinet ceded the land to the public service union.
“My records show that over years the Georgetown municipality has extracted taxes for this piece of property from this union, clearly identifying its ownership and control,” the mayor said.
According to the GPSU boss, the recent move by the administration to seize the land in question has implications for those in government as well as people who aspire to be in government.
He said that the move sets a very dangerous precedent since if one government feels that it can undo what a previous government did, this can lead to a very serious situation.
“As we grow up to understand, we look at government as a consistent and continuous institution,” he explained.
Yarde reiterated that the GPSU sports complex comprised of land given to the union by the government of Guyana led by Forbes Burnham and it was a matter that was not disputed for almost 40 years until recently.
He added that with the change of regime in 1992, the union has had several discourses with the PPP/CIVIC government about support and assistance to that property.
The government he said had also approached the union for permission to use the same land it has seized to erect sign boards for various purposes, Yarde stated.
He pointed out that as recent as May 23 last year, there was a discussion between the GPSU and government representatives comprising Dr. Roger Luncheon, Ministers Dr. Jennifer Westford and Dr. Ashni Singh, and Dr Nandkishore Gopaul when the property was discussed within the context and recognition that it was the GPSU’s property.
He challenged the government to deny that the meeting was held as well as deny the outcome of the meeting.
Yarde disclosed that the government had committed itself to assisting the union in the maintenance and upgrading of the property with the understanding that the union will facilitate its use by schoolchildren and other persons.
But according to a press release issued by the government information and news agency (GINA) the land was leased for a brief period of time by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission on May 30, 2008.
The release added that the land is demarcated on a survey plan dated May 30, 2008 for an area measuring 2.31 acres.
This lease was subsequently relinquished to Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission in 2009.
But the GPSU President is challenging the survey claiming that the GPSU had no knowledge of the survey.
He provided the media with valuation certificates which gave the size of the land owned by the GPSU at Thomas Lands and Vlissengen Road as 145, 010 square feet.
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