Jul 24, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – There is a growing danger in this country, which goes over the heads of most Guyanese. Citizens who dare to object and speak a different language are targeted for vilification, or worse. The independent media is targeted for squeezing and other punitive actions, some on the sly, others under official cover. And the latest is where Guyanese workers in the oil-related shore-based sector are targeted and made examples of, so that their former colleagues can beware and behave themselves. Surely, our democracy is, in different forms and to different degrees, becoming more and more a sinister reality, a dangerous one.
Late last week, we shared the story of some brave, agitated Guyanese workers, who felt that they are being treated differently, with inequality and unfairness resulting. In a few short days, the axe fell: dismissal without any notice given, any reason tendered. What do we have here, but a managerial mentality more of medieval times, that brooks no objection, no disagreement? What do we have in Guyana, and now showing its ugly face, if not a low-level return to the oppressions of indentured labour, and where workers subject to inequitable treatment and dirty tricks of owners and operators had better keep their peace, or be ready to pay the price? That is, summary dismissal.
We cannot have a government that condones the suppression of workers’ rights, the violations of rights of citizens to speak their mind, once they do so honestly and accurately. We cannot have, and we at this paper will not stand for, foreign companies and their foreign owners partnering with local political players in the PPP government to devastate the spirit of Guyanese workers fighting for what is due, and what should be, in fairness and rightness.
The early attempts at fixing, by the Chinese owners and operators of Aurora Gold Mining, Inc. (AGM) of some of the serious issues raised by its Guyanese workers are welcomed as good first steps. AGM did right and is applauded. The expectation is that more of the same will follow and be sustained. On the other hand, what the owners and management of Guyana Shore Based Inc. (GYSBI) did in summarily dismissing Guyanese workers complaining about unequal treatment relative to pay is wrong every time. It is dead wrong, and we at this paper make no bones about where we stand: we condemn the company for this draconian action. Guyana is not a gulag, or slave labour camp. And for members of the management of GYSBI to be so audacious as to ignore our calls to get their side of the story says so much that is denounceable about them.
We repeat the questions of before, if only to drive home the point, which we made earlier. What is really happening in this country, when foreigners come to exploit our riches and treat our people like serfs and beggars? Where are our government leaders, and where is the Ministry of Labour? What kind of bargains and assurances have been given to greedy foreign predators that they think and feel that they can do anything that pleases them, and then will be allowed to get away with it? Like we said, we are watching this to see where the Minister of Labour and his Ministry goes on this. Every step of the way, this ugly development will be followed, since we believe that if these dismissals are allowed to stand, then they would represent the beginning of more and more arrogant mistreatment of Guyanese workers by foreign companies and their onsite managers.
It is our belief that an arrogant government fuels the actions of these foreign companies. After all, the managers at GYSBI are watching, and cannot miss how the PPP government operates in other areas, whenever Guyanese stand up and speak out. Local broadcasters are now at the centre of the bullseye of government leaders over licence fees. Many of those squeezed think it is a pressure tactic to compel silence and submission to the government’s line. In other words, no dissension, and no unpleasantness publicised.
We know about that through workers poached and our own website under constant attack. We will not cave, we will not yield, we will fight.
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