may dayA Partnership for National Unity (APNU) extends greetings of solidarity to the workers of Guyana and their Unions on the observance of Labour Day 2013.

As our workers go about their various activities, in observance of Labour Day 2013, they are patently aware that the recently passed 2013 National Budget makes no provision for any increases in their wages and salaries and seeks to confirm them on the poverty line.

APNU notes that the provision for wages and salaries for workers employed through the State is being determined on only part of the income available to the state. If the Government should transfer into the Consolidated Fund earnings from NICIL, GGMC, the Lotto Funds and other sources of income of the state, there would be adequate resources to guarantee increases in real wages for workers.

The Government has acknowledged that it has failed to pay public servants any increases in benefits, allowances, including travelling, since 1995.

Labour Day 2013 observances occur at a time when the marked indifference of the Government to a cohesive approach to labour is manifest. The Minister of Labour professes to be unaware of the rate of unemployment in Guyana and, more specifically, amongst the youth. Neither the Government nor his Ministry have carried out a Manpower or a household Budget survey in recent times and, therefore, claim to have no idea of what the cost-of-living is in Guyana.

The Labour Ministry has abandoned workers in areas it considers not supportive of the Government. In the case of the bauxite workers of RUSAL, in a struggle for fair wages and conditions of work, the Labour Minister erroneously claims that he cannot intervene in that dispute because the Bauxite industry is not an essential service. Therefore, the Bauxite union must sue the company. The Minister is completely abdicating his responsibility to those workers and purporting to legitimise RUSAL’s unilateral and unlawful termination of the collective bargaining agreement.

APNU believes that all stakeholders must recommit to the sanctity of collective bargaining: its procedures are the only true means of determining the workers rate of pay and conditions of service, if the Unions and the employers are able to negotiate freely.

A strong and united trade union movement must be an indispensible condition for securing the rights of collective bargaining and, thereby, fair conditions of work for the workers.

The disrespect and disregard of the Government for Guyanese workers was revealed when it was discovered that, in the contracts for all of their big “transformational” projects, no provision was made for the employment of Guyanese workers.

APNU will continue to have an abiding interest in the workers of Guyana and their welfare. APNU promises our workers a good life and continued support and solidarity in that quest.

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