Minister with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott has expressed regret for his statement made about the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) during the debate on the estimates for the 2017 National Budget on December 20 in the National Assembly.
Minister Scott said, “I made the mistake, that statement is regrettable, I’m solely responsible for the statement being made. I take full responsibility for saying so, and it takes nothing out of me to say to FITUG, GTUC, media and to the citizens of Guyana, that I’m sorry.”
Scott made his apology at a press conference today, in the presence of Chief Labour Officer, Charles Ogle, GTUC’s General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis and other members of FITUG and GTUC.
FITUG and GTUC had called out the Government over remarks made by Minister Scott when he classified both bodies as being ‘virtually impotent’.
Scott made those assertions after being grilled by Opposition Members of Parliament over his justification for allocating $24M to the little known ‘umbrella body’ Guyana National Cooperative Union Limited (GNCUL), while FITUG and GTUC were only allocated $500,000 each.
Both Unions in a joint letter to Minister Scott said that his remarks were ‘distasteful and disturbing’ taking into consideration the importance of the labour movement and by extension workers of Guyana and were calling on the Minister to clarify/apologise, provided that his comments were not reflective of the Government’s position on the Trade Unions.
FITUG and GTUC had said that “the distasteful comment further opens speculation as to whether your utterance which is clearly contemptuous of a major stakeholder in this society with a constitutional right to exist – has informed your Administration’s decision to dismantle the Ministry of Labour, which is relegated to a department, headed by you.”
Minister Scott at his conference has since said in relation to the need for a Labour Ministry that his department has been successful thus far, and will continue to carry out its mandate.
The Labour Minister said that while the situation is unfortunate, he has always been committed, and will continue to be dedicated towards trade unions, and the principles of trade unionism and brotherhood. He added that since his assumption to office, he has been pursuing the goals of trade union unity, even among un-recognised unions.
Scott said that he will continue to take his responsibilities seriously, especially since; it is something he has been trained to do.