As we celebrate Labour Day 2016, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is pleased to extend militant greetings to all our workers, indeed, to all Guyanese. May Day is one of the few holidays observed internationally and is always a reminder of those of the working-class who have made invaluable contributions to better workers lives. It is also the occasion for the working-class to acknowledge its common objectives and recognize the need for solidarity in their ever-sharpening struggles for a peaceful world and a better life.
Our Union is pleased to take part in this year’s activities which are being held unitedly by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) after many years. The main rally in the city is one of the several activities which have resulted from the improved collaboration and co-operation between the two (2) workers’ bodies. We are optimistic that this positive development in the relations between FITUG and the GTUC will be strengthened in the period ahead.
Labour Day offers another appropriate occasion to express our concerns over some policies being pursued of recent and their effects on the working people of the country. Here we refer to the uncalled cessation of the Education Grant to school children; the removal of subsidies from Old Aged Pensioners; the significant increases in licences and other fees; the increase in certain taxes as well as the introduction of new taxes. These and other things should be reviewed with a view to restore those benefits and rescind those measures which will certainly further raise the cost-of-living.
In recent months hundreds of workers have lost their jobs both in the public and private sector. We must recognize their plight and cannot ignore the fact that many from the public sector lost their jobs unwantedly or due to political considerations.
It is timely to recall that not too long ago the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) advised that youth unemployment was as high as 40 per cent. These new hundreds will swell the jobless ranks and certainly raise the percentage statistic.
It is opportune also to again draw attention to the threats of more unemployment and possible ruin that await numerous cane farmers and self-employed persons with the planned closure of Wales Estate and the cessation of operations at LBI Estate. We believe that at this stage and level of our development these are ill-considered measures. Those who will be directly hit are primarily workers and farmers. This must be of concern not only to GAWU but to the united Trade Union movement which, hopefully, will be taking up in earnest these matters after the May Day celebrations.
The Trade Union movement, indeed, the working-class and other working people have a number of matters to reflect on, discuss and to seek to resolve. With the unity being forced, we are optimistic that we can give, in a principled way, the necessary leadership to meet the challenges before us.
The GAWU is sure, that together, in our unity, we can overcome obstacles in our way and the Trade Unions can make a major contribution towards a new day and a better society for our people.