The latest blast to strike Guyanese was last week’s news that Guyana Goldfields is scheduled to terminate 160 of its workers. This could not have come at a worse time with businesses shuttered and little replacement employment available to impacted workers. We feel for our fellow citizens as they cry out for help. We also cry for this country that keeps allowing itself to be ripped off and made fools of again and again by one foreign partner after another; fine partners they are, when at the first hint of a pinch, Guyanese workers are made to feel the lash of no work.
The list of foreign agencies that reap a continuing harvest from Guyana’s rich resources is endless. These so-called friends of this country and its workers form a pantheon of the exploiting ranging from Omai to Bai Shan Ling to Rusal. There are others, who have done their share of injury to Guyanese workers and their families. The communities that depended upon them are also terribly stricken.
They operate from a standard playbook. At the beginning they come and promise jobs, that enticing sound-jobs-which is music to the ears of negotiators acting on behalf of poor Third World countries. This makes the locals dance with a regular welcoming chant: Come! Come and bring investment and equipment and calculations that promise much. To date, and as repeated over and over and sickeningly, it has been largely unfulfilled on the receiving side for Guyana. The record has been that of a one-way street: Resource production shipped out and the swollen profits, too. Our fellow citizens are thrown a few bottom-of-the-barrel jobs, and that is the end if the story. In the instance of one Chinese company, workers came along to fill some of those same entry level jobs.
Responsibility for these abuses (as well as numerous others) rests at one doorstep. The cooperating culprits are none other than our leaders and negotiators in government after government, who have sold Guyanese wealth and Guyanese workers down the drain, when they fall for the seductions of craven and ruthless overseas operators. They promise jobs, then they take them away, with the latest example being that of Guyana Goldfield workers. Business they call it; laid off Guyanese call it death: no earnings, no prospects, no hope. We pay sharp, repeated prices for refusing to learn.
Perhaps the time has come for the foreigners to keep their jobs. Instead, let there be comprehensive and ironclad agreements for a much bigger percentage share of the output coming to Guyana. We will take care of our workers. We think that the old mold must be cast aside and that our partnership agreements with foreign companies must be rebuilt from the ground up, and indicative of major provisions (and related protections) towards a more robust and rewarding share of whatever is extracted from our soil or our seas. Enough is enough, since these weak arrangements, sweetheart deals for the foreigners, leave us wounded and helpless, and vulnerable before the next predatory exploiter.
It is time that Guyana and Guyanese leaders learn from Saudi Arabia and Libya. It took those countries a long time to shake off the chains, but the precedents have been set. Guyana needs to develop a hybrid arrangement that: limits its responsibilities for costs; enhances its participation in workforce at all levels and profits; and leaves this country with some security and dignity.
For clearly, when our political governors give away the nation’s treasures for a couple hundred measly jobs, they have not engaged in any grand bargains, but in grander conspiracies that hold hostage workers and the prospects of this society. We cannot continue to go on with these cheap deals that leave our people empty handed and open mouthed. These are not partners; they are schemers and squeezers and spillers of this nation’s blood. Our people bleed and pay harsh prices when Guyanese political chieftains hail these deals. For sure, it is great, but not for Guyana. Just look at the sorry record.
It is about time that the leaders of this country come to their senses. We have had enough of them, both the local ones and their corporate partners from overseas.
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