Veteran trade unionist and former Member of Parliament for the PPP, Komal Chand has died.
Chand served as President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union for several years and remained in the position up until his death.
He was affectionately referred to by close friends as “Comrade Komal” and was always at the forefront of the fight for better wages and working conditions for the sugar workers of Guyana. He became part of the sugar union in the early 1970s and worked for decades with the union and the workers it represented.
In a statement this morning, PPP Presidential Candidate Irfaan Ali described Mr. Chand as “a champion fighter for freedom, democracy and workers rights”.
“Cde Komal Chand dedicated his entire life to the service of humanity. He led the struggle in securing workers rights, welfare and freedom. His political life was one of dedication and commitment to democracy, social and economic justice which he fought for and defended until today when he closed his final innings in the journey of life. The PPP/C, workers, Region 3, Guyana have lost a true patriot and exemplary Parliamentarian”, Ali wrote as he expressed his sympathy.
Former Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud recalled that during his time as the Minister with responsibility for the sugar industry, he would often have disagreements with Chand as the union representative but never questioned his commitment to sugar workers.
“Komal Chand has been synonymous with the struggles of our sugar workers for respect and a decent pay for several decades. His fight for the best package and conditions for those who toil in the fields and factories cannot be questioned. While as Minister of Agriculture, we at times, held different positions on how to save sugar, however his commitment to the industry’s workers was unquestionable”, Persaud wrote on his Facebook page.
He added that Khan’s role in shaping the modern politics of Guyana cannot be ignored as a Central and Executive Committee member of the PPP and a veteran Member of Parliament.
General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress and another veteran trade unionist, Lincoln Lewis said Komal Chand was a stronger trade unionist that he was a politician.
He explained he saw Chand’s work up close and recognised that he always went the extra mile to find common ground as a representative of the workers.
“I always found him to be very strong-willed when it came to issues regarding workers’ rights and he would always seek to find common ground an to bring about a resolution”, Lewis recalled.
Only a few months ago, Chand was on the frontline with sugar workers protesting for an increase in their salaries. Komal Chand was well respected in the sugar industry and by all of the political parties. He was married and also the father of three children.
Komal Chand was 75-years-old.