I lay before this nation the Guyana Trades Union Congress’ Policy Statement on Governance, presented on 5th July 1973 by its General Secretary Joseph H. Pollydore to Prime Minister Forbes Burnham.
1. The Guyana T.U.C. firmly believes that the trade union movement cannot avoid involvement in politics; it believes that apart from promoting the economic and social interests of workers, the trade union movement must be actively involved in the promotion of the economic and social interests of the country by trade union and political action.
2. Guyana’s social and economic progress depends to a considerable extent on the existence of radical harmony, a stable political climate and sound industrial relations practices. The TUC therefore believes that all political parties and the trade union movement should:
i) pronounce against the fostering of racialism as a means of achieving political power and instead pledge to foster conditions that would lead to the development of a dedicated Guyanese Nationalism;
ii) denounce any form of totalitarian designs or the imposition of any form of totalitarianism on the Guyanese people through misuse of political power;
iii) commit themselves to guard against violations of the fundamental rights and freedoms entrenched in the Guyana Constitution, also guard against violations of human rights and fundamental principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including trade union rights, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of association;
iv) commit themselves to be ready at all times to initiate or participate in any action aimed at protecting and preserving these rights and freedoms.
3. It rejects a one party state as a system of Government, and in so doing it also rejects totalitarianism, dictatorship, racialism and apartheid or segregation in any form. It believes in a democracy which permits freedom of speech, free elections periodically, secrecy of the ballot and above all a political system which provides for a Government and an Opposition which the Government in office should accord full and genuine recognition.
4. It believes in the fundamental human rights and principles as outlined in the Chapter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It regards the home and family as very important pillars in the structure of human society which must be preserved.
5. It believes that it is the duty of every trade union that is truly representative of the workers to subscribe to measures and actions which will ensure that the democratic principles and practices that characterise the democratic trade union movement are not eroded by ant political party or Government.
6. It believes that any Government control including restrictions on the importation of newsprint or other essential printing materials and printing equipment connected with the legitimate purpose of printing and publishing information sheets, newspapers, magazines or otherwise, is a threat to and a restriction of the freedom of the press and a curtailment of freedom of expression.
7. It is the TUC’s view that the beliefs expressed above embrace vital principles which should guide the functions and actions of any truly democratic and representative Government; further, that any Government genuinely interested in servicing the national interests in social justice and fair play should subscribe to these principles.
8. Having regards to the performance and achievements of the P.N.C. Government, including the fulfillment of a number of commitments made by the leader of the P.N.C in respect of certain matters put forward by the TUC in its 1964 and 1968 policy statements, the TUC believes that any new commitment, restatement of commitments or assurances given by the party in respect of matters contained in the 1973 TUC policy statement or otherwise put forward will be honoured by the new P.N.C Government.”
Polly, as he was fondly called, laid out to Burnham the following for consideration, which required restatement of commitment: – i) ILO membership and ratification of conventions of national and international interest; ii) non-interference by the party or Government in the business of the trade union or alternatively seeking to form trade union; iii) consultation prior to the introduction of any proposed legislation or any affecting workers’ interest; iv) adequate trade union representation on all public utilities, Government owned and/or Government controlled corporations, board, trust and committees; v) participation in national planning and implementation of programmes for the economic and social development of the country, given that workers will have to bear with the implementation of any Development Plan, and the benefits accrued to them therefrom; respecting the right to ownership of lands and other property; and vi) government will not seek to establish a One Party State.
To the following, the TUC required of government assurances it would enact legislation before the end of 1974 to deal with: – i) severance pay; ii) hire purchase; iii) national minimum wage; iv) agency shop, and v) the balance sheets of all Trading Companies to given to the trade union through the Registrar of Companies.
Finally, we required of government urgent consideration and attention to the NIS and reduction of the pensionable age from 65 to 60 years; the release of a Labour Advisory Reports; workers education; guaranteed annual income for sugar workers through an unemployment benefit scheme; increase in their pensions; delegating some responsibility to the TUC for determining inter-union and recognition disputes; cooperative insurance; position on working hours as established in the Irvine Report; exemption of tax from severance pay, unemployment benefit and similar payments, and the release and use of the Consumer Price Index as a base for setting the minimum wage and in wages/salary negotiation.
The TUC remains constant to the stated principles, laid out 46 years ago. Same informed our continuing agitation. We believe our National Interest is best served through a system of governance that forges peace and harmony, ensure equitable development, and safeguard the rights and freedoms of all. Those demands above that were achieved they are testimony to this fundamental fact.
Those above demands that were achieved have played a role in the system of Governance of we pursue.
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