…calls on Govt to stop treating workers’ related issues in ‘bad faith’
In support of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) on Wednesday issued a statement to the media where it not only called for the Minister within the Social Protection Ministry’s Labour Department, Keith Scott to apologise for his actions, but made a wider call for the Government to stop treating workers and their unions “in bad faith”.
The GTUC said it “calls on the [A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change] APNU/AFC Government to cease the practice of treating with matters relating to workers and their unions in bad faith. The absence of understanding industrial relations practices and the seeming comfort to operate in a sea of ignorance bring dire consequences for the upholding of the rule of law, fostering harmonious employer/workers relations, ensuring productivity and social cohesion. These are commitments the coalition Government campaigned on”.
It even said that the Minister ought to apologise for publicly embarrassing University of Guyana lecturer, Dr Leyland Lucas who was told he would have been appointed chairman of the arbitration panel to address the issues surrounding teachers.
According to the Union, the Minister’s actions were unlawful since the trade union community knows not of the laws’ existence, “unless it was passed in the dead of night and assented to before the nation awakes”.
The Union went on to explain that the agreement signed between the Education Ministry and the GTU on September 6, 2018, when the strike was called off clearly states “A chairperson [be] agreed to by the employer and the GTU”.
The GTUC pointed out “The 1990 GTU and MoE Memorandum of Understanding stipulated that where there isn’t agreement between the parties on an arbitration chair, the Ministry of Labour will be asked to “nominate” one. A nomination is not tantamount to an appointment. The difference the Minister must recognise and respect”.
“In voluntary arbitration, a chair can only be appointed after agreement between the parties. This the Minister must respect and stop interjecting himself where he has no authority. Given the tendency to recklessly act/speak and act contrite thereafter, GTUC thinks Minister Scott should publicly apologise to Dr Lucas for the international embarrassment he has inflicted on him,” the statement added.
Minister Scott, according to the Union, has overstepped his boundaries as a Minister as he misapplied Section 4 of the Labour Act, Chapter 98:01, which stipulates a ministerial role in compulsory arbitration has no bearing on the GTU and Education Ministry’s case, since the two parties have consented under the collective bargaining process to proceed to arbitration.
Incidentally, Minister Scott refused to apply the very law as was applied by People’s Progressive Party Labour Minister Nanda Gopaul, in an effort to resolve the nine-year-old grievances affecting workers at the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated, the Union further noted.