It did not escape the attention of the GAWU that Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, in the October 06 Kaieteur News, said “…come the 18th of October when Parliament reconvenes, a Supplementary Paper with the severance balance payment, which I believe is $2.41B will be on that paper”. For the GAWU and more so the thousands of jobless workers and their families, some literally surviving day by day, the news is most positive in the context of the gloom that has now encumbered their lives.
But most distastefully, the Minister goes on saying to the workers “[I] hope you can rest peacefully that your money is on its way and not be goaded into these unnecessary picketing that gives the impression as if the Government doesn’t want to pay the money”. Such a comment coming from a leading member of the Coalition is simply unbelievable especially when they are contrasted with his rambunctious statements in his letter in the October 09, Stabroek News. Whether the Minister, and by extension the Government, may want to admit it or not, the fact that the Administration is now moving to secure the funds to offset the workers lawful entitlements, incidentally days prior to the Local Government Elections, is because of the sustained call and actions by the workers for them to receive what they duly deserve. The workers involvement in picketing exercises; the union pursuance of the matter through the Judiciary, which we must add benefitted from a fair share of gimmickry; apart from other actions and initiatives are what, we contend, are forcing the Government to now making moves to settle its indebtedness to the beleaguered workers and their families.
Had the workers remained meek and mute as the Administration may have wished, the urge to settle the outstanding payments would have simply been absent in the Coalition’s quarters. But the Government didn’t, seemingly, bargain for the sustained and vociferous calls by the workers and their families. The entire episode, however, should demonstrate to our people that they can only succeed in getting this APNU+AFC Administration to listen to their cries when they raise their voices in a united and committed manner. We have seen this approach succeeding in the struggles by the sugar workers; the movement against the parking meters; and more recently in the protests by our nation’s teachers.
Nevertheless, while the GAWU is pleased by this turn of events, we hasten to warn the Administration that it simply cannot turn its back on this hard-pressed segment of Guyanese. They still require, and more so deserve, the State’s assistance in getting back to their feet. They notwithstanding their payments, reside in communities where jobs are simply absent; where, for many, their children are unable to enjoy full schooling; where they cannot pay their bills, among other things. The Government who placed these people in the predicament they find themselves has a responsibility to them and should not seek to shirk from it as it apparently is seeking to do at this time.
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