Latest update May 31st, 2023 3:04 PM
May 02, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis on Monday said that his union will be submitting a 15-point plan to Government as well as “Parliamentary forces” to encourage the administration to cater to economic, social and political justice.
During his Labour Day address, Lewis listed the 15 demands which include legislation to give meaning to Article 13 which speaks to inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, the establishment of all constitutional commissions, legislation to realise the devolution of power per constitutional Articles 75 and 76 to safeguard the Regional and Local Government systems by allowing for meaningful involvement of the people and their representative at these levels, and Legislation to make the National Budget inclusive, The Appropriation Bill should not be passed in the National Assembly by less than 60 percent of the elected Members, which will necessitate inclusionary democracy and cooperation across the political aisle, Legislation to realise affirmative action including commission, to ensure equity in employment opportunities in the public and private sectors, the awarding of government contracts, and access to education and other socio-economic benefits/resources impacting the various demographics.
Lewis said too that the Union will also demand the implementation of Direct Oil Benefit/Cash Transfer through Social Programmes noting that the main objective of such a programme is to increase poor and vulnerable households’ real income.
“We believe Professor Clive Thomas’s proposal of giving each home US$5000.00 per year is doable. This year Guyana is expected to earn at least US$2.88 Billion. We, the workers, demand our fair share,” Lewis said before turning his attention to “lowering or eliminating income tax (PAYE) and providing tax rebate – Lower PAYE and restore allowance for children. Pay monthly grants to those 18 years and older with conditionalities.” He said that conditionalities can vary from returning to school to pursuing certain educational programmes dependent on national needs. Lewis believes that this approach will encourage the development of the country’s human resources in direction of national need.
Additionally, the GTUC General Secretary is also demanding that the government institutes unemployment benefit- paid for a stipulated maximum time period that would enable persons in between jobs to be able to sustain themselves at least on the basics. “Activate NIS Unemployment Regulation,” he said. Another demand is for the “Universal protection of the right to join trade unions and engage in collective bargaining as outlined in Article 147 [of the Constitution]”. On this note he pointed to the violation of the rights of workers who wish to join a trade union of their choice.
Other elements of the 15-point plan include the expansion of the school meal programme, the restoration of free education from nursery to tertiary, institution of direct and indirect cash transfers to property owners through interest-free or low interest soft loans to improve residences, reduce electricity, transportation and gas prices and the reintroduction of a public transportation system to create competition and alternative, improve medical services through the establishment of fully equipped main referral hospitals in all ten regions with trauma centre, intensive care and diagnostic facilities, and erasing National Insurance Scheme (NIS) deficit and ensuring its viability.
Meanwhile, Lewis told workers that it is important for them to “join hands and return to the point where we will be able to challenge employers and unscrupulous governments as one.”
“A threat to one is a threat to all and we must not only sign solidarity, but we must also demonstrate so by actions. No longer must governments be allowed to divide us because when they do, only them and their cohorts benefit from the fruits of our labour and resources of this land. This is the world’s fastest growing economy but the only thing we feel are holes in our pockets and in the soles of our shoes. Look around you, poverty has become more widespread and real wages continue to erode,” Lewis said while noting that the “future must be bright for all, not just a few at the top with the rest of us taking the crumbs.”
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