Our Union saw in the April 17 Kaieteur News a letter titled “The GAWU/PPP relationship is unhealthy” under the hand of “Local Observers”. The letter which can only be seen as yet another futile attempt to tarnish our Union’s efforts and work in the interest of our membership and workers generally. Through the letter, the author/s, choose to make several baseless and unsubstantiated statements in an effort, obviously, to sully the GAWU’s name and reputation.
The author/s begins by advancing that our Union encouraged the recent picketing by the Uitvlugt cane cutters. Our Union stands with the Uitvlugt workers who, in our view, should not have been treated the way they were. In fact for the “observers” information, discussions following the workers protest actions, saw the rationale/s advanced by the Union being accepted and a commitment being made to ensure that adequate work is provided to the cane cutters, once all things are equal. Certainly, a rational mind would find it an injustice to wake up in the early-morning hours to reach to work only to arrive and then be told that there is no work available especially when earnings are required to feed mouths and send children to school, among others things.
We see the “observers” charging that our Union is an arm of the PPP. This, as the GAWU has pointed out on several occasions, is blatant falsehood. Our Union is an independent organization that has its own Constitution and leadership elected regularly through Congresses. The GAWU, has on several occasions, demonstrated its independence. Those facts are there for even the casual observer to see. We wonder how is it that the author/s didn’t recognize this fact considering he/she/they said they visited our website. On this matter, the GAWU regards itself as a mass-based organization and, probably, has among its membership workers who are supportive of all political organizations in our country. We respect our members’ right in this regard and, therefore, we are not aligned to any political organization.
The “observers” allege that our Union remained silent on the sugar industry during the PPP time in office. Of course, this again is a figment of the author/s imagination. The GAWU during the respective PPP/C administrations raised its voice and expressed concern. To suggest otherwise, as the author/s sought to do, is to be disingenuous in our view.
The author/s also says that our Union is probably too critical of the Government. But, must the GAWU remain mute and blind when the GuySuCo, undoubtedly with the blessings of the Administration, perpetuates assault after assault on the sugar workers? That is not in GAWU’s DNA as we remain committed to safeguarding and furthering the interest of our members. Our Union will not remain silent and will continue, at every opportune moment, to draw attention to the plight and circumstances of the workers the GAWU represents.
The author/s says the Government “…wonder why they are being hit unfairly from all sides”. We wonder whether the “observers” fully contemplated what he/she/they were saying. While we aren’t specifically aware of what is meant by “all sides”, from the GAWU’s perspective we are morally and duty-bound to speak-up and speak-out. In terms of the perceived unfairness, isn’t it unfair to deny sugar workers, a section of the State employees, no pay rise since 2015; isn’t it also unfair to suspend benefits and ignore long-standing norms and practices, and isn’t it unfair too to send home 7,000 sugar workers, plunging them, their families and their communities into misery, without any social safety net. We recall a senior Government leader, a few years ago, saying that “zero was an insult” and that we should “light a candle for sugar worker”. Today, shouldn’t we all be lighting candles as the Government imposes not only insult but injury to the sugar workers?
The GAWU hastens to wonder why would the “observers” want to seek to denigrate the GAWU standing up for its members, is it a case that our work has gotten under the not-so-thick skin of some people who are embarrassed when they are obviously exposed? Whatever is the motivation, the GAWU will not be daunted but remains committed to ensure that equality and social justice prevails.
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