The Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) has accused the Government of “parading” the victims of the Mahdia dorm fire tragedy and their families, further deepening the emotional and psychological trauma already being experienced by them.
In a statement, the GTUC said based on consultation with mental health practitioners, the parading of injured children and the grieving families could do more harm than good to their emotional and psychological well-being.
“Reaction to trauma could lead to a multiplicity of responses for the victims such as anxiety, behavioural changes, nightmares, affect academic performance, difficulty sleeping and eating, becoming fearful, having aches and pains, among others. Putting these children and their families on public display is dehumanising, adding more trauma and should cease forthwith,” GTUC said.
The union said no expense should be spared to provide the survivors, their families, and the affected communities with the requisite therapy and other support to restore normalcy in their lives.
The GTUC said at this tragic time, the country ought to unite and the Government should have taken all hands on board.
“This tragedy should have seen the involvement of the political opposition, trade unions representing the workers in the school, the religious community within the area, among other stakeholders. GTUC condemns the government for thinking it can and should go it alone when the Mahdia community and all Guyana are comprised of people from diverse political, social, cultural and economic interests. Going the partisan route in hope political up-manship could resolve a national crisis, bring accountability and heal scars, is both short sighted and misguided,” the union said.
It said President Ali and the Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton must engage.
Further, it condemned the murder charges laid against the 15-year-old girl accused of setting the facility on fire.
“GTUC not only sees these charges as misguided, geared more to public relations, giving the nation false hope, not getting to the bottom of the issue, holding those responsible accountable, but also a violation of the child’s right,” it said.
It is therefore calling for the charges against the teenage girl to be dropped, pending a complete assessment of the matter.
“GTUC does not believe the loss of lives and devastation resulting from a fire, lit from an alleged irate child lighting of a mattress, secures answers for the failure to have a building fire proof to mitigate damages and provide an escape route for those within,” it said.
The union body said it welcomes the conduct of a Commission of Inquiry (COI), but believes the Terms of Reference (TOR) should be made known.
It said the COI must not only examine what caused the fire, but also identify the institutions, policymakers and technicians responsible for the safety and security of the building consistent with modern building codes, but also the conditions under which the staff and students work, learn and live.
It said recommendations must include holding those responsible accountable and ensuring all dormitory facilities across the country are fitted in accordance with the requisite building standards to ensure that such tragedy, never repeats itself.