“We hold that workers are the fulcrum of development and their efforts should not be underscored.”
This is according to the President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Seepaul Narine, who in his message on Labour Day (today) stated that this “red-letter day” of the working-class was birthed in the struggle of Chicago of 1886 when thousands of workers marched calling for an eight-hour workday.
He reminded that for their justifiable struggle, those workers faced police brutality, hails of bullets, and even the gallows for their main leaders.
The harshness steeled the workers into further action that realized the call of Chicago 1886. That struggle left an indelible mark and led to workers leaders in 1887 resolving that May 1st be deemed International Workers Day.
“In Guyana, Labour Day celebrations begun during the 1930s under the leadership of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow and his British Guiana Labour Union (BGLU), and in 1958, May 1st was declared a National Holiday by then Minister of Labour, Janet Jagan. Since that time, workers in Guyana have celebrated this day with marches through the streets of Georgetown and elsewhere, along with rallies addressed mainly by union leaders and others. Those usual celebrations are this year, like last year, constrained as Guyana and the world contend with the coronavirus pandemic.”
Narine emphasized that the pandemic has had an enormous toll and that in Guyana, some 11,000 persons have been infected, and nearly 300 persons have lost their battles.
“The troubling statistics should be a wake-up call to us all. Though we recognize many Guyanese have adhered to the COVID-19 protocols and received their vaccinations, there are some Guyanese who continue to put themselves and others at risk. We have seen the immense toll the pandemic has taken and we all must play our role. On this Labour Day, the GAWU again, encourages all eligible Guyanese to be vaccinated. We take this opportunity to hail the contribution of our frontline workers, particularly those in the health field.”
The GAWU Head pointed out that there are several issues which continue to affect the well-being of all Guyanese and require unstinted attention.
“Crime remains a perennial issue which affects many persons in its several manifestations. Most worryingly are the extreme ends criminal elements have descended as they perpetuate their nefarious deeds. Indeed, our law enforcement officials need to be more proactive and there is need for a comprehensive plan to be developed to meaningfully address the scourge in our society.”
According to the media statement, the GAWU remains concerned too over the recklessness on our roadways and road fatalities in our country.
“Undoubtedly, to some extent, these occurrences are linked to the irresponsibility of our road users. Many concerns have been levelled at public transport operators. Indeed, admittedly they are some who, it appears, have scant regard for the rules and lives. The wanton danger those careless few put passengers and others cannot be ignored. Similarly, their contempt for the travelling public must not be overlooked.”
As such, it is calling for stronger actions to be taken against all road users who threaten the lives of others.
“On this Labour Day too, we are disturbed by the efforts of those who seek to drive a wedge between our people. This is an unwelcome development that is not in the interest of our people and our country. We have recognised that His Excellency President Irfaan Ali has committed to ensuring all Guyanese equally enjoy the fruits of development.”
Narine stated that his Union shares the views of President Ali in this regard and condemns hose who are perpetuating divisiveness in our society since they have no interest in national development and should be ignored by all right-thinking Guyanese.
“Comrades the burdensome cost-of-living brought about by onerous taxes imposed by the past Government was an issue that dominated previous Labour Day observances. Though those policies elicited the vexations of workers who undoubtedly faced hardship, the former Coalition, heartlessly, thumbed their noses. On this Labour Day we recognize that the new Government is listening and has rolled back several of the anti-people measures installed by the Coalition.”
According to the GAWU President, the Union was told that this reversal has put some $40B back into the pockets of Guyanese and while it recognizes the efforts to bring relief to our workers, they are some unscrupulous businesses who are not passing those savings on to the people.
“Their actions detestable as they rob our ordinary people. We believe this matter requires firm action from the Government and those businesses engaged in such immoral acts should be identified.”