…Burnham’s playbook on unions?
Your Eyewitness isn’t as jaded as he thought he was. He might’ve even proven he was an optimist. Some weeks ago, when teachers demanded the PNC-led Government – which they’d helped into office in 2015 — give them their demanded 40 percent raise to bring them up to a living wage, he was certain that after playing coy, the PNC would pay up. After all, if the salvation of Guyana lies in creating an educated workforce to use the oil revenues intelligently for development, then success lies totally in the hands of teachers.
And much more germanely (if mundanely!), since general elections are almost around the corner in 2020, the PNC’s gonna need the teachers’ votes, which amount to almost three seats!! Surely, they wouldn’t have forgotten the ire aroused in public servants – including teachers – when news of their perfidious 50 per cent salary increase was sneakily awarded in the heat of the night as the Official Gazette was printed!! So, by now your Eyewitness had expected the Government would be saying to the teachers, “All right…all right…take your raise; and don’t forget how munificent we were when you go into the polling booths come 2020!”
But here, on the 11th hour, it looks like the PNC of Granger is going to play hardball with teachers! What gives? If he stiffs them, it means Granger meant it — even more literally than what your Eyewitness figured — when he vowed to “continue the legacy of Forbes Burnham”.
PNC’s founder-leader Burnham was also supported by most of the trade union movement – save the PPP-aligned GAWU – when he was eased into power. But he didn’t hesitate to use tear-gas on the most faithful bauxite unions as early as 1970 when they disagreed with his plans for their RILA pension funds!
Later Burnham was to have the head of the CCWU, Gordon Todd, dangled from a helicopter over the shark-infested Atlantic Ocean when he dared call a strike in 1979 during the Rodney-led “civil rebellion”. Burnham’s Machiavellian philosophy of power dictated that no other institution be allowed to believe they could challenge him. If they ever did, they were to be taught a “condign” lesson to return to the (placid) fold. Todd “saw the light” after his near immersion into the Atlantic waters! Desmond Hoyte followed this hard line in the late 80s when George Daniels, the head of the GPSU, dared to challenge him. Daniels soon left the jurisdiction!!
So your Eyewitness is waiting to see whether Granger will go all the way. He’s already set the stage for extreme actions by planting in the Chronic that the GTU’s head is “PPP”!!
A helicopter ride’s in the air??!!
…the Disciplined Forces status quo ante
Granger’s also returning to Burnham’s playbook with his bypassing of David Ramnarine as the Commissioner of Police, and the appointment of Leslie James who’s so much his junior. That Ramnarine wasn’t even made a Deputy Commissioner makes the insult even more bitter.
Granger said he wanted a COP who was “intelligent”…and since he administered a Sixth Grade Social Studies test to the nominees, it means he didn’t think Ramnarine’s intelligent enough to pass Sixth Grade!!
But what does this say about the Top Cop and his four Deputies? Won’t they feel like those beneficiaries of Affirmative Action programmes, who’re never sure whether they’re really up to snuff? More to the point, will they be able to command the respect of the lower ranks, who can clearly see that criteria other than competence or seniority are in play? All of this is very sad for the long-suffering and crime-buffeted Guyanese public, who can only expect the same ole, same ole.
What about Public Security Minister Ramjattan, who’d recommended Ramnarine? Stricken mute?
…undercutting the BBCI
Even though the Berbice Bridge management have complained that revenues generated are insufficient to fund maintenance of pontoons, the Government’s launched two additional water taxis that’ll reduce income further!!
They forgot they’re now the majority shareholder??