Latest update March 29th, 2023 12:59 AM
Jan 28, 2018 News
Komal Chand prepared to back workers over party affiliation
President of the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand, said yesterday that he will continue to place the needs of workers above political considerations.
Chand, a Member of Parliament for the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), has come under criticisms for leading the union in a meeting with Government on January 19, last, to discuss the way forward for over 7000 workers who were cut from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
“I have always stood with the workers. GAWU is a mass organization. We are not affiliated with the PPP as we were in the mid-70s. I have always stood very firm with the workers. My loyalty first is with the workers,” Chand told Kaieteur News.
President David Granger, and members of his Cabinet, met with GAWU and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) at the Ministry of the Presidency to discuss the future of the sugar industry.
A Government release stated that after more than two hours of discussions, the parties were able to find common ground and the Unions agreed to fully cooperate with the Government to find a solution, which can benefit all stakeholders.
Chand stated that the meeting was based on a request from the membership which wanted to get certain matters clarified, including the payment of severance.
At a press conference yesterday, Opposition Leader and General Secretary of the PPP, Bharrat Jagdeo, expressed personal issues with the statement in the press release of the parties working on common grounds.
He said that the Government scored public relations points from the meeting and questioned the common grounds which were agreed upon between the two parties.
“The unions came away with nothing and the Government came out with a wonderful statement. We met, big photo [opportunity] around the world; they agreed with the union to work on a common ground for the future. What is this future?” Jagdeo questioned.
The Opposition Leader’s criticisms followed an article published in the Guyana Times that called for Chand’s removal as president of GAWU. The Times newspaper is owned by Jagdeo’s best friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop and has over the years been labeled as a mouthpiece of the PPP.
Several political analysts believe that the meeting has angered the leadership of the PPP and attempts are being made to have Chand removed as the
Chand said it is suspicious that an article calling for his removal would appear in one newspaper and not the other parts of the media. He noted that people call for the removal of union heads on a regular basis, but it is not carried on the front page of a national newspaper.
“I have had no problem with the PPP with all the previous leaders and General Secretaries. They have not caused any problem because they understood that we are an independent organization,” Chand noted.
He added, “I am the leader of the union, having been elected. I am serving the workers. If the PPP or any organization I am in wants to change my position on issues on behalf of the sugar workers and wider membership I will have to take the position of the workers and if that organization wants to part company with me then what can I do about that?”
Jagdeo downplayed that the meeting between the unions and Government had caused a rift in the PPP.
“The Party has no rift between anyone. I am just telling you issues that I have concerns about, but the party and GAWU are allies. In this case we are fighting for the same cause,” Jagdeo noted.
Jagdeo pointed out that GAWU is an institution where workers, who pay their dues, determine their leadership.
“They are free to elect their leaders and they are free to call for their removal at anytime. That is not the PPP’s business. Somehow, some newspaper article was sold by some as the PPP’s position,” Jagdeo stated.
He maintained that the Government cannot pay the workers all of their severance yet the union found them as a good partner to talk with.
“They decimated half of your membership and there is no promise to help them in the future. What is, if not a PR exercise? The PPP is an old party; we can see it. We saw Granger’s efforts to do public relations. We are not going to show there for meeting just to satisfy Granger’s government public relations when they don’t mean anything,” Jagdeo stated.
You sucking the dry seed of your own mangoes, while the foreigners eating sweet flesh.
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