Our Union has noted the contents of an article titled “Komal Chand’s removal a plot for Jagdeo’s third term – PM Nagamootoo” which appeared in the January 31, 2018 Kaieteur News. We were indeed disheartened to recognise that the PM is seeking to sow, seemingly, seeds of division undoubtedly, one suspects, for his own purposes.
The GAWU must say that it strongly disagrees with the PM’s expressed views as reported and more so his attempts at personalisation, rather than address the relevant concerns of the affected workers at this time.
The criticism of any official of our Union is tantamount to a criticism of our organisation and, therefore, it is incumbent on the GAWU to appropriately respond as we have done in our statement of January 29, 2018. The red-herrings invoked by the PM are, in our view, an ignominious attempt to stir the pot of division and undermine the unity and solidarity among the workers. Moreover, the PM’s centre-staging of this matter is a futile attempt to turn the spotlight away from the hardships that he and the Government have created in the sugar belt at this time.
The article goes on to say “[f]ollowing GAWU and NAACIE’s acceptance of Government’s proposal to pay redundant workers severance in two parts”. This statement is both disturbing and patently untrue. It seems the Kaieteur News, for reasons best known to itself, has ignored completely our statements in which we clarified and completely debunked this figmental contention.
On this score, we wish to quote what Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan told the National Assembly on January 19, 2018 when he moved the Supplementary Estimate in relation to the workers’ severance payments: – “Mr Chairman, I would like…to indicate that following a meeting with Members of the Cabinet subsequent to the moving of this paper in Cabinet, we had indicated that following a meeting this morning with the union, we put an amending proposal to the unions. I am not saying that it was accepted but we did put it to them”.
From the Minister’s utterances, he is clearly saying that we did not accept the Government’s proposal on the severance pay matter. As we have repeated ad nauseam, both GAWU and NAACIE reiterated that the severance payment must be made at once in keeping with the laws and the practice that has prevailed.
Moreover, we told the Government delegation that the workers expected to receive their payments at once in keeping with comments in the media by the Minister of Agriculture, among others. Furthermore, to agree to any other alternative arrangement would not only be contrary to our public position and our members’ legitimate expectation, but would also set a wrong precedent which we cannot countenance.
While, at this time, the PM chooses to engage in petty politicking while at the same time thousands of our compatriots are facing the daunting reality of a jobless life; a life where their dreams have turned to nightmares, and where they see all that they worked for slipping away. Today the euphoric ‘Good Life’ has metamorphosed into a ‘Dark Reality’
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