Minister with responsibility for Labour Keith Scott says the existence of the trade union movement is under threat accusing union leaders of being incapable of preparing the movement for the future.
The Minister said there are even fewer persons who belong to unions and he blames this development on the fact that there are “less capable leaders with less vision who can take the movement forward.”
“They [union leaders] have to also change with the times,” Minister Scott told reporters at the sidelines of trade union conference held at the Grand Coastal Hotel at Le Resouvenir, East Coast Demerara to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
According to Minister Scott, “The style of engagement has changed, it is not what it used to be. Today the trade union movement itself, the very existence can be seen as being under threat.”
Minister Scott believes that people need to have more confidence in the unions. He said too that if the unions work to reposition themselves for the 21st century, people will recognise progress and follow them.
“The leaderships themselves have got to wake up to the reality that it is not what it used to be in the past. It is not the same old but now a revolutionary approach is necessary,” Minister Scott said.
Prior to his comments to the media, Minister Scott had moments before listened to remarks delivered by General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) Lincoln Lewis, President of the Federation of the Independent Trades Union of Guyana (FITUG) Carvil Duncan and General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and former Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul.
Scott in December 2016 attracted media attention for saying that both the GTUC and FITUG are “virtually impotent.”
He received further media attention in September 2018 when he described teachers who were striking over pay increase as “selfish and uncaring.”
The Minister in both instances later apologized for his remarks.
The Trade Union Movement began a century ago with the British Guiana Labour Union (BGLU), now the Guyana Labour Union.
At Wednesday’s event, Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow who formed the BGLU and is deemed the father of Trade Unionism was celebrated for his struggles to ensure the rights of workers.