Message from President David Granger
The labour movement, tasked with protecting workers’ rights and improving their quality of life, is essential to expanding employment opportunities and ensuring just conditions of work.
Workers, through their trade unions, historically supported the struggles for the achievement of political independence, social justice, increases in wages and improvements in their living conditions.
Workers, today, are much better off as a result of the sacrifices of their forebears. Legislation, organisations, institutions and services now ensure workers’ rights ─ including gender equality and retirement benefits. Improved access to education, health, housing, social protection and public utilities has transformed workers’ lives.
Your government has ensured improvements in workers’ well-being, most recently, by increasing the monthly public service minimum wage by 62 per cent from $39, 540 to $64,200; attracting investment to catalyse job-creation; promoting entrepreneurship as a stimulus for employment and expanding public services.
The labour movement is urged to continue to work with the government, private sector and civil society to support efforts to generate employment, including self-employment, especially for women and young people.
Labour Day celebrates the achievements of the working people. It recalls their sacrifices and struggles for freedom, food and fair employment. It salutes trade unions and their stewardship for the workers’ well-being.
Your government remains a friend of workers and of the labour movement. It supports, always, the trade unions’ struggle for a good life for everyone.
Happy Labour Day!
Message from the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C)
On the occasion of International Workers’ Day or Labour Day, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) takes this opportunity to extend best wishes to all workers throughout our dear nation.
This significant day, which celebrates the important resource of human labour, allows for workers to rally in solidarity with each other and to further highlight their invaluable contributions towards the development of Guyana.
From slavery, indentureship, colonial times to present day, workers have scored innumerable victories and have radically transformed their working conditions. The struggle to accomplish these feats was long and hard. Many were brutalised; many were jailed and many paid the ultimate price with their lives. These victories must be celebrated, sacrifices respected and lives never forgotten. However, many of the gains won by these workers are now being threatened and much of the progress made are being reversed under this APNU+AFC coalition administration.
We in the PPP are aware that the economic and political situation in our country is a matter of deep concern and worry to workers and their families. Workers from every sector and people from all walks of life are apprehensive, not only about their daily existence but more importantly, about their future, their children’s future and the future of our country. We believe that these fears and apprehensions are well founded.
Every productive sector is on the decline; in the sugar industry, estates have been closed and thousands of workers were dismissed; in the mining sector, small and medium scale miners are being taxed out of existence, which together with several other factors have skyrocketed the cost of production, thereby forcing them out of existence; the rice sector has suffered tremendous decline owing to the absence of new markets, lack of competitive prices for paddy and many other factors; the forestry sector has also suffered a deep decline; in the commercial sector, there is a drastic decline in trade and commerce. And we can go on.
The party is also mindful of the devastating impact which the draconian tax regime imposed by this APNU+AFC coalition administration is having on the working and vulnerable people of our country. We recognize that VAT on electricity, water, health services and basic food items are simply wreaking havoc on families across this land.
Politically, workers are operating in an environment where discrimination is rampant; their rights and freedoms are being trampled upon; the rule of law is under siege and where political witch-hunting and persecution have become institutionalized policies of the Government of the day.
However, in spite of these challenges the PPP is confident in the workers’ ability to overcome while recognizing their diligence and daily sacrifices and will continue to stand in solidarity with them while robustly and fearlessly representing their cause.
As they march in solidarity throughout the country on this Labour Day, they will no doubt make their voices heard bringing attention to their plight. Our Party, trusts that, despite the challenges faced, that in some way, the observances for Labour Day will be rewarding.
Once again best wishes to our nations’ workers on this their day.
Message from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU)
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) joins in extending best wishes to all Guyanese, more so the workers of our country, on the occasion of Labour Day 2019. This year’s observances coincide with the celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of the first workers organization in Guyana. As is now well-known, our country occupies a special place in this regard having the historic distinction of forming the first trade union in the then British Colonial Empire. On this Labour Day, the GAWU recognizes the dedicated efforts and hard work of the Father of Trade Unionism, Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow who, it is recorded, faced great adversity and daunting challenges as he pressed ahead with the setting up the British Guiana Labour Union (BGLU). Today as we hail Critchlow’s selflessness and dedication, we also recall those unionists who came after and continued along the road Critchlow started on and whose efforts collectively helped to advance the rights and conditions of our nation’s workers.
Today as we assess the situation 100 years since, we recognise that remarkable gains were realized and several major successes scored. In as much as we are encouraged and proud of those achievements, we still recognise that many goals are yet to be attained. In our day, too, we cannot ignore the blatant attempts made to undermine and rollback what have been won through the struggles of the working-class. At this time, we urge workers to be wary of such attempts and to be on-guard of those who come to you disguised as friends.
The GAWU cannot fail, on the occasion of Labour Day, to express, once again, its deep dismay that the Ministry of Labour has been abolished by this Government and in its place there is a Department, a retrograde step and one reminiscent of colonial times. This is a vexing issue and is a deep concern for the Trade Union Movement as a whole, especially when one considers that such a Ministry was in place for more than sixty (60) years. It is instructive to point out too that since the un-ceremonial exit of the Labour Ministry in 2015, there has not been any legislation which has advanced workers’ rights though there are several matters which need to be addressed.
Labour Day 2019, the GAWU recognizes, comes when workers find themselves facing difficulties in meeting the demands of living. The levying of taxes has taken a heavy toll. Aggravating the situation is the tax hammer falling on previously untaxed and exempted goods and services. The concern regarding the country’s economic trajectory also cannot escape our attention. The economic situation does not give us hope or confidence in the immediate future. The GAWU is well aware that it is the workers that will be the greatest victims of any economic decline.
Workers Day comes at a time when there is widespread anxiety about the employment situation in the country. We have seen concerns being expressed about the business environment which undoubtedly has had its impact on employment. The GAWU knows firsthand of the situation in the sugar industry and the drastic fall in the quality of living of workers and their families after closure of several estates. This callous act of the Administration continues to be a disturbing feature of our times. Moreover, it is not lost on us that the large turnout of the jobseekers at the recently held Job Fair, organized by the Department of Youth, is surely a reflection of the sad state of employment in our society.
On this day, as we consider the many matters that affect and impinge on our workers and their families well-being, the GAWU must express that it is heartened that Labour Day is, once again, observed with an emphasis on unity of the two (2) umbrella unions. Our Union has long championed unity among workers and is pleased that there has been increased collaboration and co-operation among workers and their organizations in recent times. That coming together has seen workers being successful in their justifiable demands and reminds us that in unity there is strength. At this time, when workers still face formidable challenges as they march towards betterment, we are hopeful that the unity forged can be strengthened and advanced in the interest of the Guyanese working-class.
On this day too, expectedly, the workers of Guyana will take stock of where they stand and consider their next steps ahead. Indeed, the road will be arduous, the challenges great. But, the GAWU believes, given the history of struggles and determination of the working-class, is optimistic, they will attain their objective in the end. The GAWU, once again, extends greetings for a happy Labour Day to all Guyanese working-people and, indeed, the workers of the world.