Aug 31, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Several workers attached to the National Parks Commission (NPC), along with officials of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), yesterday morning staged a picketing exercise outside of the office of the NPC located at the National Park. The picketing exercise, according to a GAWU release, was in response to the disrespect of the Commission’s Management to the Union.The GAWU had last week, through its Field Officer, sought a meeting with the Commission to discuss certain matters. Though such meetings are provided for within the context of the Recognition and Avoidance and Settlement of Disputes Agreement between the GAWU and the NPC, the Commission had bluntly refused to engage the union’s officer. But according to GAWU, both parties must respect fully and abide with the relevant clauses of the agreement. Moreover, GAWU noted in its release that “it is the first time that the union has encountered such attitude from the NPC and was taken aback by the swift refusal to engage the GAWU which has shared generally cordial relations with the Commission.”
Another major bone of contention revolves around the departure from engagements between the Union’s Branch and the Commission’s Management. For several years now, the Branch, following its monthly meeting, would engage the Commission. The meeting allowed for an exchange of information between the workers/union and the management and helped to improve the relations while encouraging collaboration.
Following the July 2021 Branch meeting, the union, as has been the norm, wrote the Management seeking a meeting to be convened to facilitate the usual discussions. Through its letter, the Branch was seeking to engage the Management regarding 12 matters, according to GAWU.
The union’s letter was greeted with an eerie silence from the Commission. The GAWU, by letter of August 05, 2021, had reminded the Commission of the request to meet. But “to date, our letter has not benefitted from the dignity of an acknowledgement,” GAWU noted.
The workers also expressed serious concerns regarding the quality of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) being provided to them. Through the Collective Labour Agreement, GAWU added, the Management is required to provide certain PPEs to workers. However, in recent times, the quality of those PPEs has declined. “The workers lamented that defective PPEs are inhibiting them from completing their tasks in a safe manner. Additionally, the quality puts them at risk. This represents a serious breach of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Responsibly, the Branch had sought to discuss same with the Management, but the good intentions have been a victim of the management’s seeming policy to ignore the workers and their Union,” GAWU pointed out.
The union said that it is nonetheless hopeful that better sense would prevail, and that the management would revert to the practices, which could lead to good worker/management relations. For its part, the GAWU said that it remains willing and ready to work collaboratively with the management of the NPC in a respectful and dignified manner in the advancement of the Commission.
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