Kenneth Joseph hailed as ‘a true champion of the workers’

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The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) today said it is saddened to learn of the passing of trade unionist Kenneth Joseph. Joseph died on February 23, 2017.

At the time of his death, he held the position of General Secretary of both the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG).

In a statement issued today, GAWU said, Joseph served with distinction and with great commitment to the workers whom he represented. At the same time, he was a significant figure in the Trade Union movement.

Following is full statement: 

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is saddened to learn of the passing of a dear trade union colleague and long-standing friend, Cde Kenneth Joseph A.A. Cde Joseph died on February 23, 2017. At the time of his death, he held the position of General Secretary of both the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG). This veteran trade unionist served with distinction and with great commitment to the workers whom he represented. At the same time, he was a significant figure in the Trade Union movement.

 GAWU’s interaction with Cde Joseph went back many years. Following stints in the Guyana Police Force and the Linden Mining Company (LINMINE), he became an employee of Albion Estate in the mechanical tillage section and soon after he was elected as a shop steward of GAWU, a position he was elected to year after year. His proficiency in his job was recognized by the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) and he was promoted to the supervisory level which ended his membership in GAWU. He then became an active member of NAACIE.

 Through his association with NAACIE, he quickly rose through the ranks and served in the Union’s Executive Committee. In that sister Union he rose to the high post of General President. During his last stint in NAACIE as General Secretary, the long-standing bonds between GAWU and NAACIE became stronger. Our Union has shared many common platforms with him and, by extension, NAACIE as our Unions together sought to protect, defend and advance particularly the cause of the workers of the sugar industry and workers generally.

 GAWU recognizes Cde Joseph as a staunch trade unionist who never failed to take account of the plight of the working-people of Guyana. We recall his readiness whenever workers’ rights were disrespected and trampled upon, to be there in the midst of the struggles in their defence. His last appearance with GAWU was on December 31, 2016 when the Government advised of its consideration to close Enmore and Rose Hall Estates and to sell-out Skeldon Estate. He was very much disturbed and upset over the Government’s suggestions and pointed out that the workers needed to heighten their struggle to avert the Government’s disastrous intentions.

 Cde Joseph correctly and consistently recognized that the unity of the working-class was an essential requirement in order for workers to overcome some of the challenges they face in our day. And, he had always sought to promote measures that would engender unity and collaboration within the Trade Union Movement.

 Cde Kenneth Joseph will surely be missed by GAWU and the Trade Union Movement as a whole. His commitment to the workers was significant. At this time, the GAWU extends its sincerest condolences to Cde Joseph’s wife, children, relatives and friends. GAWU extends also its deepest sympathies to NAACIE which has lost a fine leader, a stalwart and a true champion of the workers.

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