From the GOVERNMENT
The Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana salutes all workers on this historic Labour Day, 2016.
It is the work of the people of Guyana that “safeguard[s] and build[s] on the rich heritage, won through tireless struggle, bequeathed to us by our forebears” as stated in the preamble of our Constitution.
It is the people of Guyana’s earnest and constantly renewed commitment to tireless and unstinting work which realizes the development, growth and progress of our beloved, beautiful land.
The Coalition Government is pleased and indeed proud that this May Day is being celebrated in a spirit of unity, cooperation and mutual respect. It is how, as an independent and sovereign people, this celebration must always be.
Labour Day 2016 represents a new beginning after too many years of workers and government being ensnared in an environment of hostility and disrespect.
The spirits of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, the pioneer of the fight for labour rights in Guyana, and the other vanguard fighters who have passed, will be pleased that this new day has dawned. Relentless attacks on the GTUC and other labour unions and annual disrespect for the collective bargaining process are no more.
The Coalition Government is proud that in less than one year in office, the annual subvention to the Critchlow Labour College has been restored, the income tax threshold has been twice increased and the minimum wage has been increased to $50,000.
Workers in Guyana, are undoubtedly better off today than they were a year ago. There is more work to be undertaken at all levels to allow for improved conditions, enhanced salaries, more comprehensive and thorough negotiations and establishing collective bargaining is the permanent standard.
The Government remains resolute in standing in solidarity with the workers of Guyana for the realization of a good life for all and in protecting the right to work as enshrined in the constitution.
The Coalition Government reiterates the call for all workers to once again rededicate their efforts and commitment in building a cohesive, progressive and inclusive Guyana for all our people, now and for future generations.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) salutes the workers of Guyana on the occasion of International Workers’ Day which is celebrated on May 1.
This is a good time for workers to reflect on the long and difficult road the working people have traversed over the decades, especially during the dark days of colonial and authoritarian rule when there were no organised labour unions or mass-based political parties to represent the cause of the working people.
From its very inception as a political party, the PPP championed the cause of the working people. Indeed, the PPP emerged, as it were, out of the bossom of the working class struggle. It remains until this day the only genuine working class party in the country having consistently defended the cause of workers both in and out of power.
The PPP takes this opportunity to call on all workers to stand up in defence of their rights and not to allow themselves to be used as political pawns by those who glibly speak of workers’ rights but in actual fact only seek to feather their own political nest.
The refusal of the current APNU-AFC regime to honour its promises to the workers for substantial salary increases certainly does not auger well for the working people especially when seen against the background of hefty salary increases for those in the corridors of power.
Already there are indications of a slowing down of the economy which will most certainly impact adversely on job creation and economic stability. The economic and social gains made by the PPP/C administration over the past two decades are already being systematically eroded.
The PPP is proud of its working class credentials and wishes to assure the Guyanese people that it remains fully committed to the cause of a strong and united labour movement.
In this regard the PPP is pleased with the decision taken by the two main umbrella labour organisations, namely FITUG and GTUC to have a joint May Day Parade in Georgetown. This is a significant development in the labour movement and augers well for a strong and robust labour movement.
The PPP takes this opportunity to pledge its solidarity with workers globally, a significant number of whom are now put on the breadline in several capitalist countries which are experiencing severe economic and financial crisis.
As we celebrate Labour Day 2016, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is pleased to extend militant greetings to all our workers, indeed, to all Guyanese. May Day is one of the few holidays observed internationally and is always a reminder of those of the working-class who have made invaluable contributions to better workers lives. It is also the occasion for the working-class to acknowledge its common objectives and recognize the need for solidarity in their ever-sharpening struggles for a peaceful world and a better life.
Our Union is pleased to take part in this year’s activities which are being held united by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) after many years. The main rally in the city is one of the several activities which have resulted from the improved collaboration and co-operation between the two workers’ bodies. We are optimistic that this positive development in the relations between FITUG and the GTUC will be strengthened in the period ahead.
Labour Day offers another appropriate occasion to express our concerns over some policies being pursued of recent and their effects on the working people of the country. Here we refer to the uncalled cessation of the Education Grant to school children; the removal of subsidies from Old Age Pensioners; the significant increases in licences and other fees; the increase in certain taxes as well as the introduction of new taxes. These and other things should be reviewed with a view to restore those benefits and rescind those measures which will certainly further raise the cost-of-living.
In recent months hundreds of workers have lost their jobs both in the public and private sector. We must recognize their plight and cannot ignore the fact that many from the public sector lost their jobs unwantedly or due to political considerations.
It is timely to recall that not too long ago the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) advised that youth unemployment was as high as 40 per cent. These new hundreds will swell the jobless ranks and certainly raise the percentage statistic.
The Trade Union movement, indeed, the working-class and other working people have a number of matters to reflect on, discuss and to seek to resolve. With the unity being forced, we are optimistic that we can give, in a principled way, the necessary leadership to meet the challenges before us.
The GAWU is sure, that together, in our unity, we can overcome obstacles in our way and the Trade Unions can make a major contribution towards a new day and a better society for our people.
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