May Day Rally celebrates 100 years of Trade Union movement

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By Isanella Patoir

A total of 17 workers’ union bands marched from Parade Ground and through the streets of Georgetown to the National Park Wednesday morning, where they rallied to celebrate ‘May Day’ also known as Labour Day.

This year the annual May Day Rally is being celebrated under the theme, ‘A long journey for social justice, together we can achieve.’

Hundreds of workers were dressed in red, each with their banners and some with hype music, marched down the streets in solidarity for workers’ rights. This year also marks the 100th anniversary for the trade union movement in Guyana.

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Guyana (FITUG) joined forces to celebrate the hard work and commitment of the country’s workers.

Coretta McDonald, President for GTUC said, “Labour Day ideally constitutes annual and national acknowledgements towards the dedication and contributions of workers who have ensured or who are there to ensure the prosperity, strength and well-being of our country regardless of race, religion, colour, creed or political alliances.”

Coretta McDonald, President for GTUC addressing workers at the National Park

Meanwhile, Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally said Government has recognised the worker’s sacrifice and honours their contribution towards the development of the country.

The Minister made mention of the recent struggle with workers from the Russian Bauxite Company (RUSAL) who were dismissed for protesting a 1% increase in their wages.

Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally

The workers were reinstated after weeks of strike action after the intervention of the Government and the recognition of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union by RUSAL.

President for the General Workers Union, Norris Witter also spoke at the rally and asked the workers to repeat after him when he said, “The workers united can never be defeated for it is in unity that our strength lies.”

Witter pointed to the recent struggles of the Guyana Teacher’s Union.

Hundreds of teachers in September last year began a strike action following failed dialogues with the Government on increased wages and benefits.

After four days of striking the teachers went back to work following an arbitration agreement between the GTU and the Government.

Meanwhile, Lincoln Lewis, General Secretary for GTUC reminded the workers about the reason for the May Day rally.

“114 years ago, in 1905 a young 21-year-old water front worker by the name of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow began organizing workers to rally together and change the condition of the workers’ social environment,” Lewis said.

It was not until 14 years later that the Trade Union Congress was recognized as a legal entity and has been in operation since.

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