No rift with GAWU – Jagdeo says


General Secretary of the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Bharrat Jagdeo on Saturday sought to dispel claims that there is a rift between the PPP and President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand.

Jagdeo is, however, upset with the statement Government issued following a meeting the union had with President David Granger on January 19.
The alleged rift was reported in the media after an article appeared in a local newspaper which Jagdeo has close ties to, calling for Chand’s removal.

“There is nothing of the sort –GAWU as an institution. Now what I can say is that the same support that we share with the Union, I will not defend individuals. The sugar workers pay their dues, they determine their leadership, they’re free to elect their leaders and they’re free to call for their removal at any time,” Jagdeo stated at a press conference on Saturday.

In a recent interview with the News Room, Chand said he is being made a “scapegoat” by “evildoers” who are upset with the meeting he had with the Government regarding the severance payment to thousands of retrenched sugar workers.

Referring to the Guyana Times article, he said “clearly this is a work of others than who print the paper.”

Jagdeo said what he is concerned about is the statement issued by the Government following the meeting as he read one line which said “After more than two hours of discussions, the parties were able to find common ground and the Unions agreed to fully cooperate with the Government to find a solution, which can benefit all stakeholders.”

“What solutions?” Jagdeo questioned as he outlined several proposals put by his party which should have been taken as solutions to the problem.

Jagdeo says he has issues with Chand stating: “We have listened and we are satisfied that you are concerned with the issues. We are ready to work along with the Government to explore the options and we are going to give our best to see the situation out. You are right that there are no winners in this and we are willing… We are certainly pleased with this meeting. This is the first meeting [for the year] we have been able to have with the Government and we believe that the meeting took place in a positive atmosphere and we recognise that the Government itself pays attention and I think that it is a good beginning. That is certainly important ground rule that we dialogue, that we talk and try to find an answer for the way forward. We are pleased. From GAWU, we are very pleased and it spells out that the future engagement are in the interest of the workers, the industry and the country.”

He questioned the future of the industry, whether it includes the rehiring of the fired workers, paying their full severance forthwith or providing them with loans, lands and subsidies.

“That bothers me because this is Government, how can you find them genuine when they’ve just sent home thousands of your workers?” the Former President questioned.

He said “the unions came away with nothing from the meeting and the Government came out with a wonderful statement.”

He said the PPP and GAWU will remain strong allies but noted that “you have a lot of good, strong, young, bright leaders of GAWU who will have a great future in building that union and keeping it relevant.”

Chand, who has served as GAWU President since the late 90s, told News Room that he will not resign.

When asked to comment on the relationship he [Chand] has with the PPP’s leadership, he declined to say.

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