THE POLICE AND THE TOUTS
There isn’t any doubt the Commissioner of Police is intent on creating a positive image for the Force and its servicemen and women as he delivered a message of intolerance for those under his charge taking bribe.
The Commissioner further advised that those in the service entered fully aware of their remuneration package and if discontented with same should leave. This is easier said than done, and though rouge cops are not uncharacteristic in any Force, efforts must be looked at to minimise temptation by making the remuneration package attractive.
You cannot treat people like animals and expect the best of them. The police are performing under dire constrains, and with little incentive for placing their lives on the line to serve and protect us. They need to be better treated. And it is not for the want of their association making representation on their behalf, but that of an employer being receptive to exploring new ways and thinking of doing things.
Some of the areas that can be considered to incentivise the job are: – across the board housing programme; life and medical insurance; education assistance for children; providing basic facilities at the station such as drinking water, toiletries and stationery; and return the yearly bonus.
It remains an error on the government’s part to remove that bonus which has become a condition of service. It represented something to look forward to and create a project around. Benefits complement salary, serving not only as disincentive to engage in inappropriate conduct, but also incentive to retain and attract better skills.
As the police themselves are struggling to eke out a living and provide for their families they are now tasked with targeting another vulnerable group, the touts. Touts provide a needed and valued service for the commuters and transportation service. Theirs is a service that grew out of the need to assist or direct commuters in boarding and the providers – having to meet their financial obligations – needing commuters. This service is in a competitive environment, and where the touts are meeting the needs of both, at a fee, is testimony to ingenuity.
A new form of earning a non-criminal living should not be snuffed out, but recognised for what it is meant to be, and harnessed in a manner to bring repute to those providing a service persons have come to rely on. Some of these touts will fetch the commuter’s luggage for distance in order to board the bus or car. Let us encourage those engaged in the trade to band themselves into a cohesive group and help them to improve the quality of service, including physical appearance, respecting personal space, language usage, etc.
ECONOMIC GENOCIDE AND FREDDIE KISSOON
There was a letter last week in Kaieteur News, “That ‘economic genocide’ notion,” which undoubtedly set out to create public mischief in the hope that the writer could further divide the nation along ethnic lines.
My unwavering position that the Bharrat Jagdeo government conceptualised, developed and implemented a programme of economic marginalisation against the African community, which I called economic genocide, is a matter of public record. The naming of this programme is consistent with the United Nations’ (UN) definition of this type of crime, and has been supported by evidence. Instructively, the Jagdeo administration never refuted these charges.
Instead, the administration sought to further inflict the dastardly programme on the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and its arms, the Women’s Affairs Committee and Critchlow Labour College (CLC), by withdrawing yearly grants/subventions given since in the 1960s by the Forbes Burnham government. This was continued under the Desmond Hoyte, Cheddi and Janet Jagan governments. Undoubtedly, the withdrawal affected students seeking a second chance at education, and who were primarily drawn from the inner cities and depressed committees, but it did not close the CLC’s door or silence the GTUC.
Further, it was during the Jagdeo presidency that the UN Human Rights Council sent Gay McDougall, expert on Minority Issues, to conduct an inquiry into allegations of discriminatory practices. In her report, she alluded to evidence substantiating the charges, after which the Jagdeo administration cussed her out.
Those who know my years of trade union activism know when it comes to taking principled position on citizens/workers’ rights and freedoms, my voice was never still or could be bought. There was never silence on issues affect the working class, irrespective of race or other differences.
Public record will show the reaction to my outspokenness on matters affecting sugar workers, who are generally considered supporters of the PPP, that party’s leadership instigated the silencing of me from speaking at rallies held to highlight these workers’ concerns. They had no problem with me holding the coalition government to account for its handling of GuySuCo and treating sugar workers and their unions with respect, but took umbrage to holding them to account for their treatment of said workers, their unions and GuySuCo during their stewardship.
Further, if standing in defence and protection of the sovereignty of this nation against those who threaten same, be they internal or external, gives me the label of being a bully, I embrace it. As a citizen, if I cannot stand in defence of the rights of Guyanese workers and demand respect for the Constitution and Laws of Guyana, then I won’t be worthy to be born in Cuffy’s land.
And to Freddie Kissoon, a man I still consider a comrade, he got it wrong on two counts. The nineteen-point proposal submitted by the GTUC to the Government and Opposition on 5th March 2019, which was made public, to realise the political system of inclusionary democracy, did include matters specific to the trade union. In fact, it ranked topmost on the list.
It is not role of the Labour Department to arbitrate; its role is to conciliate. Conciliation is the effort to bring the parties closer to finding resolution to their grievances. The GTUC’s proposal called for the establishment of an Industrial Court, which will expedite and make decisions on grievances, whether workers are represented by a trade union or not.
I remain steadfast in my conviction that Guyana cannot afford an open border policy. We are a small nation in population size, with social services that are stretched thin, high unemployment, a fragile developing housing infrastructure, inadequate health services, and new resources to be exploited. In this scenario it is imperative we ensure managed migration and the welfare of Guyanese placed foremost.
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