National Parks Commission workers protest over management’s “disrespect”

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Several workers attached to the National Parks Commission along with officials of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) this morning staged a picketing exercise outside of the office of the National Parks Commission (NPC) located at the National Park.

This morning’s picketing was in response to the “disrespect” of the Commission’s Management to the Union.

The GAWU last week, through its Field Officer, sought a meeting with the Commission to discuss certain matters. Though such meetings are provided for within the context of the Recognition and Avoidance and Settlement of Disputes Agreement between the GAWU and the NPC, the Commission bluntly refused to engage the Union’s officer.

In a statement, GAWU maintained that both parties must respect fully and abide with the relevant clauses of the agreement. Moreover, GAWU said it is the first time that the Union has encountered such attitude from the NPC and was taken aback by the swift refusal to engage the Union which has shared generally cordial relations with the Commission.

GAWU said another major bone of contention revolves around the departure from engagements between the Union’s Branch and the Commission’s Management.

For several years now, the Branch, following its monthly meeting, would engage the Commission The meeting allowed for an exchange of information between the workers/union and the management and helped to improve the relations while encouraging collaboration. Following the July 2021 Branch meeting, the Union, as has been the norm, wrote the Management seeking a meeting to be convened to facilitate the usual discussions.

Through its letter the Branch was seeking to engage the Management regarding twelve matters. The Union’s letter was greeted with an eerie silence from the Commission. GAWU, by letter of August 05, 2021, reminded the Commission of the request to meet. To date, GAWI said the letter has not benefitted “from the dignity of an acknowledgement”.

The workers also expressed concerns regarding the quality of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) being provided to them. Through the Collective Labour Agreement, the Management is required to provide certain PPEs to workers. However, in recent times, the quality of those PPEs has declined. The workers lamented that defective PPEs are inhibiting them from completing their tasks in a safe manner. “Additionally, the quality puts them at risk. This represents a serious breach of the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” the Union said.

Responsibly, the Branch had sought to discuss same with the Management, but the good intentions have been a victim of the Management’s seeming policy to ignore the workers and their Union.

GAWU, nonetheless, said it is hopeful that better sense could prevail, and the Management could revert to the practices which lent to good worker/management relations.

For its part, GAWU said it remains willing and ready to work collaboratively with the Management of the NPC in a respectful and dignified manner in the advancement of the Commission.