Jan 12, 2016 News
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has denied receiving millions of dollars from the Guyana Sugar Corporation to train sugar workers.
The union made the statements, yesterday, in reference to a news story which appeared in the January 06, 2016 edition of the Guyana Chronicle titled “GAWU pocketing millions to train sugar workers”.
“The Union, having reviewed the article, is of the view that it is misleading and an attempt to hoodwink and misguide its readership and the public. The assertion that the union received some $18M from GuySuCo for training of sugar workers at the GAWU Labour College between 2011 and August, 2015, is completely and utterly fallacious.”
Rather, the sum referred to, if correct; represent wages paid to employees who were granted paid-release to attend union sponsored courses.
“This practice has been in existence for many decades now and is enshrined in the Collective Labour Agreement between the union and the corporation,” GAWU said.
With regards to the article also asserting that the college curriculum has no bearing on the sugar industry, GAWU said this, too, is furthest from the truth.
“In the short duration of a standard course, the union in support of the sugar industry has allotted GuySuCo six sessions during each course in which the corporation’s personnel have the opportunity to interface with participants to discuss the challenges and problems which face and confront the sugar industry.”
GAWU said that it should be noted, also, that the paid-release of workers to attend union-sponsored courses, or other courses, is not peculiar to the sugar industry, but indeed an activity embraced by all trade unions and entities whether publicly or privately-owned, and has been an invaluable practice that sustains healthy industrial relations in our society.
“GAWU calls to attention that the attendance of workers to our union courses, conferences and similar educative activities, was won out of the struggles of the working-class and not without resistance from the owner-class circles and their collaborators.
“Today, such an activity has become, in a sense, part of the workers’ expectation and their work-life. Workers cherish this right dearly. It is a right to be steadfastly defended by the Trade Union Movement if there are attempts to roll back this hard-won gain.”
GAWU said that the Chronicle story is not only a clear distortion of what is conveyed in the Commission of Inquiry Report, but represents the latest attack on the right of sugar workers to benefit from Trade Union education and training.
“The story cannot be delinked from the other misinformation and other assaults which have been perpetuated in recent times against the workers and their primary organizations. Of course, the COI’s recommendation to discontinue payment for employees’ participation in courses run by the GAWU Labour College, is not only difficult to fathom but provides a glimpse of what might be further assaults on workers’ gains and benefits.”
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