It is said that when it rains it pours, circumstances with which many fellow citizens in flood prone areas have long been familiar. As Guyanese brace themselves for more of the hammer blows that come, they seem to come all at once. It is of the noose tightening slowly but remorselessly on workers toiling on the lower rungs of this society.
Some of those entities that can afford and manage have already taken actions that shield the all-important bottom-line of the business world. In the blue-chip tier, furloughs and rotations are already in motion. The first are the supporting staffs: clerks and below, then a little higher up, with the aggregate being that soon many are gone: sent home with a pained smile, helpful words of encouragement and little else. Corporations that delight in reporting billion-dollar earnings and enhanced shareholder value are suddenly so wretchedly impoverished that they cannot afford to keep workers on board in their time of great need and so part company with them. The big businesses have had to shed several thousand workers now out and without. Without the hope of any prospects, since there are no jobs on the outside, no income stream is flowing to the inside. Stranded workers are on their own, which increasingly is the cruelest contradiction of that ringing vow: we are in this together.
If the bigger businesses held out for a while, the numerous smaller ones are left with no choice. They are first comprised of sole proprietors whose goods and services no longer have buying customers: they are neither buying nor calling nor needing, since they themselves do not have what has to be delivered to sellers. That is, no cash and ominously little else to fall back on in that niche of companies and customers. People are struggling, many are suffering. In this bleak environment, the call emerges for freezing activities in the mining sector, which impacts tens of thousands of smaller citizens.
Chief Medical officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, has warned of a likely “runaway situation” (KN May 28) and there is now talk of elections recount needing another two weeks, at least. Though the current restrictions are scheduled to end on June 3rd, it looks highly unlikely that any material easing will occur.
With the bleakness of continued closed doors, there is scant turnover, with dwindling demand being the growing menace that is not going away anytime soon. When these numerous self-employed find themselves without customers and cash, then it is the deep freeze that chills at the starkness of the noose tightening with relentless pressure. The suffocation is palpable, the bodily constrictions on family grinding. They need help, but the stewards of the state are otherwise occupied with other priorities displacing the urgencies at the bottom. Hurting workers and their loved ones will have to wait, with the bad news is that it appears to be a long wait.
It is a sizable non-working crowd in this grim condition. The small businesses – the not insignificant brigade of independent contractors, family entities, street side vendors – of several more thousands, perhaps tens of them, are facing frighteningly intensifying circumstances. We plead for a comprehensive programme of assistance in the local arena spearheaded by the state. Yet, even as we say so, we fully recognizing that the state is wounded and itself limping presently.
Meanwhile, that long-reliable source of overseas-based helping hands is unable to connect currently. Those in Brooklyn, Queens, and Florida must help themselves first as they fight their own battles that limit their generosity of before. The willing hearts are there, but the hands are weak in the fulfilling of what is a suddenly unaffordable proposition. That hurts, since it was a most meaningful subsidy that went a long way to make ends meet, which is all we are discussing: the plight of the out of work, the out of pocket, and the out of resources to make the ends required from morning to night meet.
There is a vacuum of nothingness in between those dispiriting daily intervals. The national priority is on the fight for power and ascension. The individual priority – a growing number of such persons – is how to fight through the unbearable challenges of another hard day.
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