Labour Day messages
His Excellency Brigadier David Granger
President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana
on the occasion of Labour Day 2019
The labour movement, tasked with protecting workers’ rights and improving their quality of life, is essential to expanding employment opportunities and ensuring just conditions of work.
Workers, through their trade unions, historically supported the struggles for the achievement of political independence, social justice, increases in wages and improvements in their living conditions.
Workers, today, are much better off as a result of the sacrifices of their forebears. Legislation, organisations, institutions and services now ensure workers’ rights ─ including gender equality and retirement benefits. Improved access to education, health, housing, social protection and public utilities has transformed workers’ lives.
Your government has ensured improvements in workers’ well-being, most recently, by increasing the monthly public service minimum wage by 62 per cent from $39, 540 to $64,200; attracting investment to catalyse job-creation; promoting entrepreneurship as a stimulus for employment and expanding public services.
The labour movement is urged to continue to work with the government, private sector and civil society to support efforts to generate employment, including self-employment, especially for women and young people.
Labour Day celebrates the achievements of the working people. It recalls their sacrifices and struggles for freedom, food and fair employment. It salutes trade unions and their stewardship for the workers’ well-being.
Your government remains a friend of workers and of the labour movement. It supports, always, the trade unions’ struggle for a good life for everyone.
Happy Labour Day!
Guyana Public Service Union
May Day 2019 Message from the President
Mr. Patrick M. Yarde.
May Day is a very serious occasion, which commemorates the struggles of the working class for betterment in their livelihoods and for future generations. Throughout history workers have struggled against oppression where employers have chosen profits in preference of humanity and condemned workers and their families to abject poverty, distress and death. In modern times enlightened employers have worked with trade unions towards etching out better standards of living for workers and have set aside this day to commemorate the struggles and achievements of workers, who were militant and stood in unity against those ruthless employers.
Workers on this day look forward to celebrate and mark the occasion where they look forward to celebrating successes and achievements from our struggles, but these expectations have been overshadowed by breaches in collective bargaining agreements and other forms of injustices. This conduct from elements within the administration is most undesirable. What we are faced with is several new phenomenon eg proposals that we have submitted that have been denied after years of frustration are being depreciated and implemented arbitrarily, while the right to free collective bargaining is being frustrated and undermined. A variety of different approaches are being employed to undermine members’ confidence in the union and to weaken/destroy the organization.
Firm action is necessary to ensure free collective bargaining, to institute natural justice, guarantee a safe and healthy work environment and make available sufficient resources to ensure that workers are properly remunerated to enjoy a life of fulfillment and treasure the feelings that they enjoy the recognition of being treated as a priority in the whole scheme of considerations.
We take seriously the various manoeuvers that are taking place and condemn the arbitrary dismissals supported by lame excuses, for example loss of confidence in workers. This strange methodology lacks transparency and cannot withstand scrutiny. There are also novel practices, such as faking interest in workers’ welfare, while at the same time short changing them, frustrating and denying representation genuinely made by substantive Trade Unions and arbitrarily imposing subtle measures that appears to give relief.
That apart the plight of our sweeper/cleaners prevail.
In the main there is resistance to pay a living wage, reviewing allowances and providing a safe working environment and disregard is generally displayed to ILO Conventions that are in force. At the same time security of tenure is being eroded at a time when the ILO is promoting, internationally, the Decent Work Agenda which the Parliament of Guyana has ratified.
All of the issues that were mentioned in my 2018 Labour Day Message continue to exist.
The full membership’s support is required to penetrate the barriers that block our movement forward. This challenge, together, we must commit ourselves to undertake and overcome.
Here I would wish to reiterate what was stated in my 2018 Labour Day Message and still remains relevant today:
“In eliminating the obstacles in our way, we must mobilize now to confront the existing injustices in order to etch out a future that is built on fairness, justice and human rights. As a public sector union, we recognize and are confident that we are integral to the foundation of a just and democratic society and that our fight is a fight for all. We must enhance our relationship, our militancy and solidarity to dislodge the political and executive assaults. We must obtain positive results in pursuit of resolving all outstanding grievances”.
We, the members, must undertake the responsibility to create a public service that enjoys the confidence of the citizenry and maintain their respect and support.
On behalf of the Executive Council of the Guyana Public Service Union I extend best wishes to all workers for a Happy Labour Day 2019.
GAWU: Labour Day 2019 reminds workers that in unity there is strength!
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) joins in extending best wishes to all Guyanese, more so the workers of our country, on the occasion of Labour Day 2019.
This year’s observances coincide with the celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of the first workers organization in Guyana. As is now well-known, our country occupies a special place in this regard having the historic distinction of forming the first trade union in the then British Colonial Empire.
On this Labour Day, the GAWU recognizes the dedicated efforts and hard work of the Father of Trade Unionism, Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow who, it is recorded, faced great adversity and daunting challenges as he pressed ahead with the setting up the British Guiana Labour Union (BGLU).
Today as we hail Critchlow’s selflessness and dedication, we also recall those unionists who came after and continued along the road Critchlow started on and whose efforts collectively helped to advance the rights and conditions of our nation’s workers.
Today as we assess the situation 100 years since, we recognise that remarkable gains were realized and several major successes scored. In as much as we are encouraged and proud of those achievements, we still recognise that many goals are yet to be attained.
In our day, too, we cannot ignore the blatant attempts made to undermine and rollback what have been won through the struggles of the working-class. At this time, we urge workers to be wary of such attempts and to be on-guard of those who come to you disguised as friends.
MESSAGE BY HIS WORSHIP THE MAYOR OF GEORGETOWN Pandit.UBRAJ NARINE
Labour Day is a time when employees through their unions reflect on the role of the trade unions, in the life of the working class people and the struggles of the workers in their environment. Also, special tribute is made to the father of trade unionism in Guyana, Hubert Nathenial Critchlow who fought vehemently for rights of workers.
Today, I want to acknowledge, salute and celebrate those men and women who work with the Georgetown Municipality and are represented by the Guyana Local Government Officer Union (GLGOU) and the Guyana Labour Union(GLU). At Council the employees provide a plethora of services. As we would rightly say that the Council provides services from the cradle to the grave.
I am aware of those men and women who worked beyond the call of duty in many critical areas and in conditions that are not very ideal to ensure that the residents receive a standard level of service.
At Council we recognize the role of the trade unions in the work life of employees. We are cognizant of the many challenges employees face.
However, I believe that if we work together no challenge is insurmountable and no problem is without a solution. This is why I have an open door policy; workers representatives can engage me on matter that will advance the rights and interests of employees. At this juncture we must embrace collectivism and advance collaboration rather than confrontation for the advancement of the City in every sphere.
It is factual, that workers play a pivotal role in supporting the economic, social and political well-being of any nation. Therefore, every service is critical and every employee is valuable in the achievement of the overall economic goals of this City and the nation.
The role of the trade union should not be taken for granted. It is work of the trade union that championed the cause for improved safety and health including; the provision of protective clothing and a safe work environment, 40 hour work week, pension and gratuity, special allowances for employees who work beyond the call of duty.
The current situation at the Council demands that the Council take certain critical steps that may seem unconventional, if it is to sustain its current employment cost and simultaneously provide efficient services to its citizenry.
However, I am optimistic that at the Municipality we are on the verge of experiencing that paradigm shift in several areas; including payment of rates, implementation of new revenue earning avenues, improved services to our citizenry and improvement in the working conditions for employees.
As Mayor of the City of Georgetown I look forward for the continued support of the Trade Union as we work together to restore the beauty of Georgetown.
A MESSAGE FROM THE PPP ON THE OCCASION OF LABOUR DAY 2019
On the occasion of International Workers’ Day or Labour Day, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) takes this opportunity to extend best wishes to all workers throughout our dear nation.
This significant day, which celebrates the important resource of human labour, allows for workers to rally in solidarity with each other and to further highlight their invaluable contributions towards the development of Guyana.
From slavery, indentureship, colonial times to present day, workers have scored innumerable victories and have radically transformed their working conditions. The struggle to accomplish these feats was long and hard. Many were brutalised; many were jailed and many paid the ultimate price with their lives.
These victories must be celebrated, sacrifices respected and lives never forgotten. However, many of the gains won by these workers are now being threatened and much of the progress made are being reversed under this APNU+AFC coalition administration.
We in the PPP are aware that the economic and political situation in our country is a matter of deep concern and worry to workers and their families. Workers from every sector and people from all walks of life are apprehensive, not only about their daily existence but more importantly, about their future, their children’s future and the future of our country. We believe that these fears and apprehensions are well founded.
Every productive sector is on the decline; in the sugar industry, estates have been closed and thousands of workers were dismissed; in the mining sector, small and medium scale miners are being taxed out of existence, which together with several other factors have skyrocketed the cost of production, thereby forcing them out of existence; the rice sector has suffered tremendous decline owing to the absence of new markets, lack of competitive prices for paddy and many other factors; the forestry sector has also suffered a deep decline; in the commercial sector, there is a drastic decline in trade and commerce. And we can go on.
The party is also mindful of the devastating impact which the draconian tax regime imposed by this APNU+AFC coalition administration is having on the working and vulnerable people of our country. We recognize that VAT on electricity, water, health services and basic food items are simply wreaking havoc on families across this land.
Politically, workers are operating in an environment where discrimination is rampant; their rights and freedoms are being trampled upon; the rule of law is under siege and where political witch-hunting and persecution have become institutionalized policies of the Government of the day.
However, in spite of these challenges the PPP is confident in the workers’ ability to overcome while recognizing their diligence and daily sacrifices and will continue to stand in solidarity with them while robustly and fearlessly representing their cause.
As they march in solidarity throughout the country on this Labour Day, they will no doubt make their voices heard bringing attention to their plight. Our Party, trusts that, despite the challenges faced, that in some way, the observances for Labour Day will be rewarding.
Once again best wishes to our nations’ workers on this their day.