By Leroy Smith
[www.inewsguyana.com] – General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) Lincoln Lewis today (Thursday, May 1) urged workers to rise up and protect the infrastructure that their ancestors have worked to build. He was at the time addressing the Labour Day Rally held at the Critchlow Labour College on Woolford Avenue.
Lewis, who focused his presentation on the sugar industry, told the gathering of fellow union leaders and political activists that the sugar industry is worse off today than in the colonial days.
He said the GTUC will ensure that it speaks out about the issues affecting the industry. He added that the plight of one worker in Guyana is the plight of all despite what sector or union they fall under.
Lewis told his union members that no longer can the GTUC sit by and pretend that the issue of sugar and its problems are to be blamed on one section of the country, since according to him “We are all in the same mess alike.”
He accused the PPP of managing the sugar industry as its political football. He said the failures of the industry are due to bad and poor management. He added that despite the investments in the sugar industry, the industrial actions coming out of GUYSUCO remains among the highest in the public sector.
He pointed to the working conditions of the men and women who work in the sector, describing it as very dangerous. Lewis called for there to be better transportation to take workers to and from work and in a safer manner.
The senior union leader spoke specifically to the crammed estate trucks which are used to transport employees of the various estates across the country to work. He described the mode of transportation as unsafe and as one which should be looked into and addressed immediately.
The rally was told of the decision to appoint as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Sugar Corporation, a man who caused the company to fail while he served as the Chairman of the Board that overlooked the operations of GUYSUCO.
Lewis told the rally that the new CEO among other things has as part of his package two houses to himself and an arrangement where if ever there is a power outage, a special switch will be used to provide electricity to his buildings only, leaving the other manager’s building within the compound in darkness. This he added is in addition to the other benefits of travel and other allowances.
Meanwhile, when contacted for a response, Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy denied the claims, stating that they are made up claims.
“Those are hearsay, those are not true and I don’t know that those are in any contract,” the Agriculture Minister said.