Sep 18, 2023 Letters
Kaieteur News – I have been observing the developing saga between President Dr. Irfaan Ali and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) from the day the president was ‘advised’ that the 7% increase his government had planned to pay public servants for 2022 was unacceptable when the end of year inflation rate estimated by the International Monetary Fund was 9.4%, since there is growing oil wealth and continued substantial migration of skilled people.
My interest was piqued for two reasons: this ’advice’ constituted an attack upon one of the important avenues the Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) uses to undermine African material conditions to force them into its ranks or to migrate and historically, due to its relatively large African constituency, the GTU has been more closely associated with the Peoples’ National Congress (PNC) and as such any form of militancy is considered a threat by the PPP.
First and absurdly, in this highly ethnically divided society, when confronted by accusations of racial/ethnic discrimination in this part of the 21st century, when the right of racial/ethnic groups are internationally institutionalised, we are simply asked to believe that the PPP is colour blind when designing and implementing social policies.
Of course, even if the PPP was not deliberately being racist, it does not mean that the results of its policies cannot discriminate, and concerns about ethnic discrimination are the most important stumbling blocks to national development and cohesion. Therefore, it is the duty of the government to ensure that discrimination is in fact not taking place and to do so in a comprehensive and open manner. For obvious reasons, the PPP has not only refused to be engaged in any such verification but now flush with cash it uses all manner of direct and random handouts that is likely to exacerbate the problem. The result is that citizens are forced to look elsewhere for help to conduct such a study!
Secondly, in democratic countries worldwide, various forms of trade union/political party alliances are commonplace and Guyana’s political history is replete with such relationships. By the turn of the 20th century, largely to avoid numerous spontaneous labour disputes, the capitalists themselves began to support the formation of trade unions in the interest of industrial peace and development.
Long before the existence of the PPP/Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union relationship the leaders of the trade union movement in Guyana became members of the national executive. Governments attack on trade unions because of their militancy and/or political affiliation is an attack upon democracy itself.
However, at a conceptual level, autocratic regimes prefer a society of atomized individuals, i.e., one without strong individual or group social attachments. Alexis de Tocqueville in his ‘Democracy in America’ warned that a society of individuals lacked the intermediate social structures to mediate relations with the state. The result could be a democratic ‘tyranny of the majority’ in which individual rights are compromised.’ Few, weak and marginalised non-government organisations are essential features of the autocratic setting in which the use of repression, coercion, cooptation and containment are commonplace. These are usually deployed depending upon whether the autocrat believes that its interest and that of the given social organization are reconcilable and how strong or weak is the supportive national or international attachments of the latter. Where interests are reconcilable, autocrats cooperate and attempt to co-opt the organisation; where they are not reconcilable, various levels of coercion and force are deployed.
Acting on the above ‘advice,’ the government decided to increase its offer to public servants but as with all autocratic regimes, the loyalty of the security forces is paramount and the PPP sought to use this dilemma to its own benefit. The security forces were the first to be given reformed increases of between 8% and 32%.
But unfortunately, this was considered insufficient to stem the emigration of educated Guyanese and so the government was again prevailed upon and returned with increases for health workers of between 13% and 74% on their salaries in for 2023. Not surprisingly, the United States ambassador then found it necessary to depart from a prepared presentation to thank and applaud the regime for its sensible decision to make decent increases!
Good sense suggests that once the reasonable increases mentioned above were given to some public servants, similar amounts would have to be given to others, but once again the regime played politics rather than act with good sense and in the national interest. Notwithstanding its persistent bleating about the need to improve education quality and education system reform in general, since the regime deems the GTU to be some kind of subversive organisation, it dillydallied with the negotiation of teachers pay increases to undermine the union and avoid it getting any kudos for increases.
Then, just as the PPP attempted to undemocratically bypass the PNC during the recent local government elections, President Dr. Ali and his government have redefined autocracy as democracy and lauded the president as an ultra-democrat for deliberately circumventing the union and going directly to its members! Come on Doc, that kind of whacky thinking would be best left to others!
Dr. Henry Jeffrey
DECEPTION & CORRUPTION getting WORSE by the minute in GUYANA.
Sep 24, 2023Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League 2023… Kaieteur Sports – The final battle of the 2023 CPL 2023 edition is set to be the most exciting, intense match to date, as the Guyana Amazon...
Kaieteur News – It is apparent that there are two significant factors affecting press freedom in the country: the lack... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.