Great uncertainty,increasing pressures, heavier burdens facing workers- GAWU

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…says in its Labour Day Message 

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) in its Labour Day Message says unity in the Trade Union Movement is needed now more than ever, as the working people are confronted with increasing pressures and heavier burdens.

See full statement below:

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) extends warm and fraternal greetings to the workers of Guyana on the occasion of Labour Day 2017. This year, as workers in various parts of the country take part in marches and rallies, the GAWU is pleased to record that the observances are characterized by greater signs of unity in the trade union movement. Such togetherness is needed especially at this time when our working-people are confronted by increasing pressures and heavier burdens.

The GAWU is also saddened to record that for the first time, in a long time, Labour Day finds workers and their families in a state of great uncertainty and having to contend with steadily declining living standards and an ever increasing cost of living. We see deteriorating economic circumstances serving to devalue our dollar and increasing the cost of imports. At the same time, additional burdens are placed on workers backs with the taxation of previously untaxed essential goods and services; the introduction of new taxes; the hiking of extant taxes; the significant increases in the cost of Government fees, among other things. In such a depressing state we see the promise of a ‘Good Life’ becoming increasingly elusive.

For the nation’s sugar workers, Labour Day celebrations are most bitter. Not only are they the only segment of the state’s employees to be denied pay rises and incentive payments,but now salt is being rubbed into the deep wounds inflicted on the heels of the closure of Wales as thousands more stand to be gravely affected by the Administration’s closure and sell-out intentions for sugar. In totality, 9,000 workers will have their jobs lost and thus forced onto the breadline resulting from the Executive’s ill-considered and, seemingly ill-thought-out, decision on sugar. Aside from the workers tens of thousands of poor, hard-working Guyanese stand to be affected and scores of now vibrant villages will certainly experience falling standards. It seems, from our perspective, that the ‘Good Life’ is not applicable to this large section of Guyanese.

It is disheartening, and perplexing, that in spite of the massive social and economic consequences that will attend the industry’s miniaturization, the Executive remains headstrong and seemingly unconcerned. Clearly, it seems to us in GAWU, that the Government has selectively ignored the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which had warned that the societal effects of the sugar decision must be considered foremostly. Such consideration is especially important when the alternatives proposed are seemingly non-starters. GAWU reiterates its strong view that sugar can be saved and be made sustainable. Key to such a feat we hold is a supportive Administration, a knowledgeable management, and committed workforce.

Indeed, the working-people, the students, the farmers, the youth, the pensioners are facing challenging and tough times. But, at the same time, we are also seeing increasingly the fight back and resistance to the harsh decisions being taken. This is indeed a positive development and one that augurs well for our people and that should be actively and widely supported. As the workers and their organisations celebrate Labour Day, the GAWU looks to the unity displayed today being consolidated. This is a demand of the times in which we live and is in the interest of Guyana’s working-people and our nation’s future as well.

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