Sep 29, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Employees of the Linden Utilities Service Coop Society Limited (LUSCSL), on Tuesday continued their protest action against the government installed Interim Management Committee (IMC) and one of its members- Courtney Handy.
When the substantive Board of Directors was removed last April, Handy was the only member from that board, who was placed on the IMC, a move the workers objected to from the beginning. Employees claim they will not be returning to work until they are properly engaged by the Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton, or a senior officer within the ministry. “The minister has to come, we need the CCDO, some minister to talk to us and they have to come and address this matter urgently,” one worker said during a protest action on Tuesday.
The protest started last week Wednesday. The workers believe that since the installation of the IMC six months ago, everything has been going downhill at the society. They are accusing Handy of playing a major role in victimising staff, contributing to a toxic working environment, amongst other things. Mr. Handy has since denied these allegations. On Friday, he was accused of jumping the fence and breaking into the premises. “They are victimising staff, they are demoting staff and I remember when they first came, they said they are not here to move staff, to do anything with staff salary but they have done the total opposite…I would like them to have an AGM and to remove Mr. Handy and to have all the changes made, to reverse it.
The workers, through the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union, have listed several conditions before they resume duty. If these terms are not met, they have vowed not to return to work. In their negotiation, the employees are calling for the removal of Handy, the immediate appointment of workers acting in vacant positions, an inquiry into the conduct of the IMC since its installation.
Relative to the appointment of acting workers, the acting Finance Manager in particular feels that she is being victimised by Handy because he has a personal vendetta against her. “I am working here over 20 years, I have been moving up, I do my work and this is vindictiveness towards me and all the persons coming along with me,” she said.
In an invited comment, however Mr. Handy related that she was appointed to act in that position following the resignation of the substantive manager and was told that the post will be filled within six months. The recruiting process commenced under the former board of directors and only continued after the installation of the IMC. He said the post was re-advertised and the acting manager’s application was also accepted and she along with other applicants were interviewed. “That process is not yet completed and so it would be dishonest for her to allege victimization prematurely,” Handy said.
Handy also rubbished several of the allegations leveled against him and claims he has not been involved in victimisation. He said since staffers are bent on doing things the old way of the Coop has been left in debts and corruption and that the IMC is fixing the system. Since installation, he claims the income of the Coop has doubled. On the ground supporting the workers was Member of Parliament Jermaine Figueira, who said the protest is a justifiable one and that it is quite evident that the IMC has failed to execute the mandate given to them within the timeline. That mandate was to get the Coop ready for an annual general meeting and election of new executive.
Speaking to the media last week however, Minister Hamilton said he met with the members of the IMC for an update on the mandate to get the society ready for an AGM. He said the discussion surrounded the audit, expansion of services amongst other things. It was a few hours after he was informed about the sit out by the union. Minister Hamilton urged the workers to use the correct protocol to have their grievances heard. That protocol is to engage the Chief Labour Officer on the issues raised, since it will only affect the residents who were depending on the Coop for the essential service when they strike.
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