The Guyana Trades Union Congress, (GTUC) is urging citizens to hold the government accountable and demand a place at the decision-making table.
In a Labour Day Statement, GTUC’s General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis said the Labour movement is dissatisfied that citizens continue to be deprived of benefits of the country’s resources and urges citizens to “reorganize and agitate” for the enforcement of a system of government that is accountable to the people.
He said though Article 13 mandates the establishment of an inclusionary democracy by providing opportunities for the participation of citizens in the decision making processes of the state, this has not been the case.
“A right, as enshrined in the Constitution, cannot and must not be honoured in the breach. We must move with haste to make sure both the Government and the Opposition pass relevant Bills in the National Assembly to make Article 13 a reality. Article 13 deals with the fundamentals of an inclusive government which requires the government, opposition and relevant stakeholders working together for the good of the nation and citizens. No government has the right to deny citizens anything that is prescribed by the Constitution”, Lewis said in his statement.
Lewis added that it is now time for citizens to demand to take up spaces in the management of state matters that affect the rights of their economic, cultural, and political well-being.
“It is disheartening what is happening in the foreign-owned oil and gas sector. Guyanese must not be bystanders to transgressions and violations. In this sector exploitation of workers is rampant. For instance, should a worker question the conditions under which he is working, the employer retaliates by not recalling that worker after he would have gone on turnaround. In addition to this transgression to the working class and family, Guyanese workers are not enjoying equal pay for equal work to their foreign counterparts. One wonders if these conditions are not being created and facilitated by a regime that could only talk about respecting workers’ rights but is not serious about enforcing laws and international conventions to protect the rights of all workers,” the Trade Unionist observed.
According to the TUC General Secretary, where the oil contract has limitations, the government is expected to do much more in the areas of workers’ protection and advancement.
“So far, they have failed to work with the Opposition and trade unions to conceptualise and introduce laws, policies and programmes to secure the welfare of the workers of Guyana. The People’s Progressive Party/Civic seems to be picking up from where they left off; and the Ali regime will offer no new hope to the Guyanese labour force. Citizens and workers must not allow the PPP’s Machiavellian politics to pass without these politicians being held accountable. They say they will renegotiate the oil contract and we must hold them to their words. If we fail to do this, then we are failing ourselves and becoming party to our own destruction.,” Lewis said.
Lewis said while the government promised 50,000 jobs in five years, there seems to be no hope in sight to achieve this.
“It appears Ali has pulled job creation and the numbers out of the American political playbook. The difference is- in America, politicians are held accountable by proactive media and civil society for promises made and the veracity of their claims, whether they are realisable or not. American politicians have to show how it will be done; but politicians here take the people for fools, telling the media a set of Nancy stories and acting as though pulling numbers out a hat would make the promise real,” Lewis said in his pointed statement.