The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers (GAWU) saw in the October 18 dailies a full page advertisement by the Ministry of Finance informing that the Minister Winston Jordan would be seeking Parliamentary approval for monies to settle the outstanding severance payments to the thousands of sugar workers the Government laid off since it came to office.
Such an advertisement we gather is an expensive venture and is yet another demonstration of how our people’s monies are used now-a-days.
Minister Jordan who, it seems, is smiling from ear to ear tells workers not to be fooled and that they would soon be paid. While the GAWU is happy, even at this very late stage, that the workers, who desperately need their monies, will be paid expectedly with interest. At the same time, we feel constrained to point out that the effort is coming along at a time close to the November 12 Local Government Elections and additionally we wish to note that the Minister is not doing the workers any favours as he wants to make it seem.
The fact that the Government is moving to secure funds to settle its indebtedness to the workers is not because of magnanimity but because of a sustained struggle which kept the matter in the air.
Over the last months, the nation has been moved by the sad situations workers and their families now find themselves in. The workers themselves have taken part in picketing exercises and marches.
The Union has sought judicial intervention to having the Government respect the laws of our land, which, we cannot fail to re-collect the attorneys representing GuySuCo sought to have dismissed on frivolous grounds.
Fraternal union bodies abroad have also condemned the Government’s actions with UNIFOR’s International Director, just weeks ago, telling the media that in Canada such acts would have seen the perpetrators behind bars.
Also, we cannot forget that several allies who, on many occasions, have drawn attention to what can only be described as a shameful crime against the workers and their families.
So while the Minister wants to appear to beat his own drum, he and his colleagues have committed one of the gravest assaults on the workers, first putting them out of a job and then denying them their lawful payments for a prolonged period contrary to our country’s laws.
At the end of the day, had the Government not been denounced as it deserves, in our view, the machinations and the face-saving maneuvers now being employed would have not been pursued at this time.
Today, while the Administration seeks to redeem itself in the eyes of the sugar workers and come into their good graces, after creating painful wounds and then rubbing pepper in them, we wish to tell the Minister and the Government that it cannot fool the workers as it ignominiously seeks to do now with advertisements, flyers and other propaganda material.