Long-serving Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) member and president, Komal Chand, has passed on.
With a solid grounding in the Agriculture sector, the veteran trade unionist was well known in the sugar belt, fighting for workers’ rights, better wages and salaries and improved working conditions.
Chand was also a long-standing member of the People’s Progressive Party and a Member of Parliament.
The party’s presidential candidate Dr. Irfaan Ali, in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning, described 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,” Ali wrote on social media.
“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 has lost a true patriot and exemplary Parliamentarian. To his family my prayers and thoughts are with you in this difficult time. May God grant him peace.”
GAWU, of which Chand was the head for an extensive period up until his death, is the largest trade union in Guyana and in the Caribbean.
It was founded in 1946 as the Guiana Industrial Workers’ Union. After failing in the 1950s, it was reformed as the Guyana Sugar Workers’ Union in 1961, but changed its name to Guyana Agricultural Workers’ Union in 1962 before becoming GAWU later that decade.
Chand was initially the Organising Secretary of the Union before rising to the helm.