EYEWITNESS: The free market


…and labour

Was a time when the world was a very simple place to live in: that time when “Jagan and Burnham” were together for a brief moment in the fifties. In politics, it was us against the “imperialists” and in the economy it was labour, represented by trade unions, against those dastardly (running dog) “capitalists”.

In politics, however, the apple of power to run an independent Guyana was introduced into our little Eden and our “land of six races” was torn asunder as we were cast into the hell of perpetual conflict that still consumes us. Our strength of diversity had been turned into our great weakness.

In the economy, we lost also our innocence, but the process was much more drawn out and insidious – since the rupture was not confined to our little mudland – but was a world-system phenomenon.

The Marxist critique that had divided the world into “proletariats against capitalists” was much starker in the colonies, where politics and economics were pretty much coincident. ‘Capitalists riding roughshod over workers’ was farmed out to the State that deployed the Police to mow down workers who dared question the “roughshodding”.

In fact, yesterday was the 80th anniversary of the Guyana Police killing four sugar workers at Leonora because they dared to ask that their workday be reduced from 12 hours!! Such impertinence!! Our trade unions fought long and hard for workers’ “betterment” and in fact, with the help of the politicians who’d emerged from their struggle, were able to enact laws that defined workers’ rights.

Those same politicians, Jagan and Burnham, in fact decided to go the whole hog by the 1970s and nationalised all businesses – now supposedly “owned” by the workers. Over in the Mother country, Britain (and the US), unions had also seized much power over the economy, in which businesses were heavily regulated.

That didn’t last long and by the end of the decade, Guyana’s economy was on the rocks – as was Britain’s!! Thatcher came into power and Reagan in the US and together they swore to break the power of unions and roll back regulations over businesses. They succeeded so well, that by the time Desmond Hoyte decided to reverse gear on the economy in 1989, there was a blueprint he was forced to follow. That blueprint gave short shrift to trade unions since wages, like all prices, were to be set by the market.

And we arrive at the decision by Rusal to shut down its operations when workers balked at their unilateral one per cent wage increase offer and struck. The workers are demanding “governmental intervention”.

Do they expect the Government to go against “the free market”?? Another “Declaration of Sophia”?

…and the WPA threat

The WPA “Overseas Associates” (WPAOA) just shot off a very stern letter to APNU that they’re not going to put up any longer with being taken for granted as “appendages of the PNC”!! Seems the straw that broke their (overseas) back was their local members (presumably) being handed the agenda for a hastily summoned meeting with no consultation and then foisted with an “elections committee”. Either they get respect, or they walk!!

Your Eyewitness is intrigued about whether the locals in the WPA also agree with this ultimatum, since they didn’t sign the missive. Frankly, he doesn’t think the locals agreed. After all, decisions in politics are now made by the free market. And in the “race” politics of Guyana (see above) it’s all about what numbers can the WPA bring to the party.

The PNC line that African Guyanese can’t “allow” that nasty PPP to get back into power has already solidified that constituency.
The WPA already cashed the one cheque they had in 2011. The morality of Walter Rodney.

…and the fraud business

From the revelations now oozing out from the fallout of Sillington’s setting up his private company and the fraud expert James not evidently being so expert, SOCU’s clearly a business.
And here your Eyewitness thought it was about “justice”!!



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