‘Take great pride in our diversity and co-existence of several cultural groupings’ – GAWU urge in Arrival Day message

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See below full message from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU):

Our rich cultural tapestry is one of the features that sets Guyana apart from many of its contemporaries.

As a people, we take great pride in our diversity and the co-existence of our several cultural groupings.

It is against this background that the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) extends best wishes to all Guyanese, both at home and further afield, on the occasion of Arrival Day.

This important observance is another reminder of what makes Guyana special and what plays a role in our renowned hospitality and welcoming spirit.

While Arrival Day – May 05 – though largely associated with the arrival of East Indians, the day reminds us of all indentured immigrants brought to our land.

Our research advises us that outside of the East Indians, the Madeiran Portuguese came in May 1835, the Chinese in 1853, as well as a few other ethnicities during that phase of colonialism.

We are aware that the colonialists also brought labourers from Malta, Ireland, Germany and England.

Arrival Day also reminds us of the reasons for the indentureship system.

The, then immigrants, who replaced the emancipated slaves were made to toil in the fields of the sugar plantations to enrich the foreign owners of the plantations.

Indentured labourers and their families were forced to exist in inhumane and atrocious conditions. And, like their compatriots, they were forced to engage in several struggles, which gave us several martyrs, in order to bring about small improvements and meagre benefits in their lives and work conditions.

As we observe Arrival Day, the GAWU is constrained to remind us that our unique culture has a common thread in the sugar industry.

It is that historical industry which bounds a great lot of our people. We are reminded that it is the very industry on which modern Guyana is built through the labour of many of our people.

As Arrival Day is once again commemorated, we remain saddened over the affairs of this important industry. At this time, a legacy of mismanagement has invoked severe setbacks and undue pains.

We recognise and appreciate efforts to breathe new life into the industry, as we consider significant interventions to move further along the road of turnaround.

Critically, given the linkages between Arrival Day and sugar, we urge the need to strengthen the current management with skilled and capable personnel. We believe this would be an appropriate tribute to those who toiled in the fields and factories and on whose contributions today we proudly stand.

As we celebrate Arrival Day, the GAWU urges all Guyanese to spare a moment to reflect on how far we have come as a people, the challenges we overcame, and the successes we have recorded.

At this time, when we ought to be looking to reach new and higher plateaus, we see concerted efforts that will very likely reverse much of the progress we have made and rightly can take pride in.

Let us resist such efforts and get back on the development track.

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