FITUG heartened by Govt’s COVID-19 relief measures

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Following is a release from the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG):

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) was most heartened to learn of the new PPP/C Government’s decision to offer assistance to households and those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement by President Dr Irfaan Ali to seek to make available some $4.5B towards this initiative can well go a long way in alleviating the painful times many Guyanese have been facing since the pandemic has taken hold.

The Federation sees the provision of relief as a critical measure for our country to staunch the spread of the virus and to overcome the troubling times we now find ourselves. It was against this background, that the FITUG had long advocated an economic response to coincide with the public health actions that were expedient. Dismayingly, our calls fell on the Coalition’s seeming deaf ears and we have seen an exponential rise of cases in our country. Apart from that we warned then, as we do again, that the economic fallout will not dissipate immediately and there must be a menu of policies which will address this troubling situation that faces thousands of Guyanese. We are, therefore, most pleased to see at last proactive actions being taken and, on this score, we remain willing to lend our support.

We also recognize from the new Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony a commitment to ramp up testing in an effort to get a better handling of the situation. This was yet another measure we had urged the Coalition to pursue but which was ignored. There are several experiences which promote such measures yet the former Administration seemingly decided to ignore tested solutions and went into folly after folly. The selective and restricted testing protocol that had been employed has, so far, resulted in less than one percent of the population being tested though five (5) months have gone by since the first COVID-19 case was reported. We contend that had an expansive testing regime been embraced, in the first place, we could have had a much better handle on the situation. Nevertheless, we are hopeful, even though valuable time has been lost, we can soon begin to have a firm grip.

The FITUG, at this time, reminds all Guyanese that they too have a role to play. They must ensure they wear their masks when out in the public and they practice social distancing too. The need for adequate sanitation measures cannot be overemphasized. We also hold that employers also must ensure that their employees are provided with adequate facilities and personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate against possibilities of the spread of the virus.