Rights of workers to be evaluated differently post COVID-19- Lincoln Lewis


With workers now forced to work from home to stop the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), veteran Trade Unionist Lincoln Lewis says fighting for workers’ rights has taken on a new meaning.

Lewis, who is the General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), told the News Room that “this transformation is what the trades union and employers will have to prepare to deal with since even after the pandemic leaves, there will still be a difference in the way people operate.”

As of May 1, Guyana confirmed 82 positive COVID-19 cases and 9 deaths.

The Government on Thursday published a gazetted order extending the ongoing curfew and COVID-19 measures which restricts the opening of most businesses until June 3. The measures have been in effect since April 3.

Many businesses and even public agencies are facing a reduction in revenue but in the long term, Lewis said if persons continue to work from home, remuneration will also have to be looked at.

“What is important is that since work will now be shifted from the factory to the homes… jobs will now have to be evaluated [differently],” the trade unionist told the News Room.

He explained, “when a man is on the job, he uses the employers’ electricity, water and all these things, if the employee now has to be at home, it will be a different situation. So we will have to look at the whole job configuration and remuneration in a different light.”

He made his comments as Guyana observes Labour Day.

May Day celebrations commenced in then British Guiana during the 1930s under the leadership of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow and his British Guiana Labour Union (BGLU); in 1958, May 1 was declared a National Holiday.

It is the first in decades which was not marked by large gatherings and workers marching through city streets to show their rights and freedom in the workforce.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Economic, Political and Social Transformation Post COVID-19”.

Lewis, in an earlier a statement on his Facebook page called on the Government and the National COVID-19 Task Force to hasten its support to the most vulnerable on a regular basis.

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