Latest update May 31st, 2023 3:04 PM
May 02, 2023 News
…GAWU Pres. tells Labour Day rally
Kaieteur News – Amid growing concerns in society over the cost of living and the state f the economy, President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union, Seepaul Narine called on government to implement measures to assist low- earning workers and, one of which is for the national minimum and public sector minimum wages be equated to offer relief and breathing room to families who are harmed by the drastic price increases.
Addressing workers at the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) Labour Rally at National Park on Monday, Narine said there are many workers who wished to be at the rally, but are facing several challenges and encountering tremendous difficulties. “At their workplaces they have no rights, and their labour is undervalued. They are pushed further into pauperization, and they need a helping hand. From this podium, we say to those workers that we will stand with you in full solidarity, ready to guide and assist. Comrades in the spirit of Labour Day imbued by working-class solidarity let us extend a helping hand to our comrades in the unorganised sectors of our economy. For those who are listening to me on the outside, you must join a union, a progressive union, if you really want changes at your workplace.”
Narine said as “we are reminded of the hardships some sections of the working-class confront, we recall too the revolutionary struggle that ignited Labour Day. This day has evolved from a rich, inspiring chapter of the international working-class and rooted in the struggle of 1886 when some 80,000 workers in Chicago, USA demanded an eight (8) hour working day. Based on those struggles, workers representatives adopted a resolution at a meeting in 1887 for May 1st to be observed as International Workers Day. In Guyana, our celebrations began in 1930 under the leadership of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow and his British Guiana Labour Union, but it was not until 1958 when Janet Jagan, then Minister of Labour that, May 1st was approved as a National Holiday.”
Narine said Labour Day is a day when workers raise high the banner of solidarity of the International working-class.” We are part of this world movement. As generation of workers before us have done in our country, the working-class of the world have also written, selflessly, glorious and inspiring chapters of struggles that impacted positively on our lives and influenced profound socio-economic changes. In our day, we are witnessing new challenges levelled at those who historically thrived on wars, conflicts, oppression and exploitation. Today there are more voices across all continents demanding an end to injustice, and for World Peace, deepening of democracy, an end to poverty, respect for countries sovereignty and consistent, focused, efforts to address climate change.”
“We of FITUG express, in the strongest terms, our sincerest solidarity to all peoples, especially the working-class who are engaged, in one way or another, in this fight today for these causes. We hasten to add that while we support these struggles, we must also do our share to bring about an order that places people before profits and a world order based on peace, humane relations, and steady progress.”
At the local level, Narine said the cost of living remains a pressing concern. “Officially food prices have gone up by twelve (12) percent. But comrades are telling us that they are paying much more. We are aware of several explanations as we note that Guyana is not alone. In several parts of the world, people are taking the streets but thankfully here, proactive efforts are advanced by President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and Prime Minister Mark Phillips and others in the Government to cushion the effects and bring about relief to our nation’s workers. We appreciate policies to maintain water and electricity rates, zero-rating of fuel, and adjustments to the import duty regime. We have seen too the efforts to enhance disposable income and provide additional benefits. These are welcomed but the situation, for workers at the bottom, remains challenging.”
However, he said as an interim measure, to assist our lower earning workers, the national minimum and public sector minimum wages should be equated to offer relief and breathing room to families who are harmed by the drastic price increases. “Additionally, the National Tripartite Committee should begin discussions to arrive at a livable wage for our nation’s workers. Given our economic trajectory our call is justifiable, and we are open to engage in constructive dialogue to arrive at pay levels which are reasonable in the context of our development. Those discussions should also advance an all-encompassing social pact addressing retirement and retirement benefits, safety and health, working hours, and labour productivity, to name a few. Indeed, given our stage of development the need for greater collaboration and cooperation is necessary. Certainly, there are many issues which need to be addressed and we are confident that frank, mature conversations could see a win-win situation. Comrades we all need to work together for Guyana’s development and FITUG is ready to advance responsible leadership in unlocking our national objectives,” Narine said.
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