Jun 16, 2018 News
The Federation of Independent Trades Union of Guyana (FITUG) says it has been excluded, by the Government of Guyana, from participating in the state’s activities to commemorate the 70th death anniversary of the Enmore Martyrs.
“Our organization, since the Coalition Government assumed office, and even before, had been participating in the Enmore Martyrs’ Day activities at which we are invited to lay a wreath and to deliver an address to the activities that are held at the Le Repentir Cemetery and at the Enmore Martyrs Monument.”
However, according to the umbrella union body, the Ministry of Social Cohesion, which is responsible for the organization of the activities, contacted FITUG regarding its participation on June 09, 2018.
“At that time, we advised that we would require a formal invitation and never heard from the Ministry again. In the meantime, FITUG was advancing its preparations towards its participation and, subsequently, contacted the Ministry about the requested invitation and arrangements for the activities. It was only at that time that we were informed that we would not be required to participate.”
FITUG said that it was at a loss to understand its “exclusion” from the occasion.
“Nevertheless, we recognise it as a new approach to our body. In recent times, FITUG, together with the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), has been afforded an opportunity to participate, through a number of bodies and forums, in the work and activities of the state. This differing approach, on this occasion, is obviously a cause for concern to us.”
In the meantime, FITUG says it has written Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr George Norton, seeking an explanation for his Ministry’s decision and “have pointed out that our exclusion runs counter to the objective of his Ministry. We cannot help but wonder whether the decision to exclude our body is linked to our outspokenness on several matters of concern to the working-people and their families.”
The federation said that as a responsible body, it cannot turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to the “steadily declining economic and social circumstances of our people. If this is indeed the case, the FITUG is not daunted but will continue to speak up, and speak out when cherished gains and freedoms of our people are threatened.”
FITUG said that it is assessing the situation and its relations with the administration and it is considering carefully its participation in future activities and work of the state.
“Our exclusion serves to indicate, from all appearances, that our country is quickly heading down a slippery slope and heading back to an era when dissenting views are not tolerated. For us, this is saddening to us since the Enmore Martyrs gave their life and our forbearers struggled to win us those very freedoms for which they are recognised, it seems as though, they are being disregarded by our now-a-day leaders.”
Meanwhile, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) explained that sugar workers- Rambarran, Lall known as Pooran, Lallabagee Kissoon, Surujballi and Harry were cut down by the Colonial State’s agents in a struggle to improve their working conditions and better their lives.
“Their killing is another reminder of colonial repression of those who stood up against injustices and to bring some relief to their exploitation by the foreign owners of the plantations.”
GAWU said that the brutal killing of the Enmore Martyrs stirred indignation among many patriotic Guyanese.
“The incident inspired young Cheddi Jagan and others to form the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) out of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) which was established in 1946. Dr. Jagan, himself who was deeply moved by the massacre that took place, pledged that he would dedicate his entire life to the cause of the struggle of the Guyanese people against bondage and exploitation.”
The union, which is the largest in the sugar industry, said that as it pays tribute to the martyrs, it cannot fail to reflect on the sugar industry and the anxieties and despair that hover over the heads of workers throughout the sugar belt.
“It is disheartening for us in spite of the very good prospects for the industry’s viability, the administration stubbornly pressed ahead, disregarding the dire consequences, with its plans to minimize the industry.
The sad and disturbing reality, at this time, is that the Government has pushed thousands of ordinary, hardworking, decent Guyanese into a life of desperation and, possibly, depravity, GAWU contended.
“The cutting down of the industry is not the direction that our country should be pursuing. This is a path that will lead to greater hardships for our people and country.”
GAWU said that the sugar industry and its workforce have a pivotal place in this country’s economic life.
“We urge the authorities not to disregard this. We urge them not to continue letting down the working people. As we face new challenges today, new workers struggles are taking place. It is fitting, therefore, in such circumstances to reflect on and draw inspiration from the 1948 Enmore workers struggles.”
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