Dear Editor,Below are some questions for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).1. What is the last year of audited accounts and has this been made a public record?2. Has GuySuCo’s procurement procedures being complied with?3. Has GuySuCo disposed of any of its assets and have these been based on public tenders and valuations. How much has been raised and how does this compare with the valuation. Is this information a public record?4. Is GuySuCo up to date with its remittance of PAYE and NIS deductions and obligations5. Are all severance payments up to date?6. Will Government make whole the GuySuCo pension plan deficit and will those workers be guaranteed their full pension benefits?7. Is there a business plan that is being followed and is this a public record?8. How many acres of land does GuySuCo own? How much is leased?9. What percentage of the land owned or leased to GuySuCo is been utilised.10. What is the total funds provided to GuySuCo since the People’s Progressive Party left office?11. Who has responsibility for accounting for the proper use of the monies lent to GuySuCo?12. Will the G$30 billion be repaid by GuySuCo or Government?13. Is there a business plan that shows that these funds will be repaid? Has this been laid in Parliament and made a public record?14. Is Government giving a guarantee to the lenders of the G$30 billion and who will be responsible for ensuring that the funds are properly accounted for.15. Would it be cheaper for Government to borrow the money directly and lend GuySuCo, thus ensuring lower borrowing costs and full transparency and accountability?Sincerely,Name withheld
Dear Editor,On June 24, 2018, sections of the media reported that a coordinating committee has been established regarding GuySuCo’s ‘Sustainable and Resilient Communities Programme’ and ‘Alternative Livelihoods Initiative’. For the GAWU, the establishment of a committee now six (6) months after the workers of Skeldon, Rose Hall and East Demerara were made jobless, and eighteen (18) months since a similar fate met the Wales workers, in our sincere view it says a mouthful.The belated establishment of a ‘committee’ clearly demonstrates that there was — and from all appearances still is — no plan, or even a concerted effort, to address the well-being and welfare of the thousands of ordinary Guyanese who have been affected by the wrong decisions to close sugar estates. Certainly, GuySuCo and the authorities had, in our view, significant lead time to properly plan and devise workable solutions to mitigate the loss of the workers’ livelihoods. The fact that this is now being done nearly at the end of the second half of 2018 confirms the view that there was not even a glancing thought regarding how workers and their families would make out following the closing of the estates’ doors.We cannot help but wonder whether the ‘high-powered’ committee is aware of the realities that the jobless sugar workers and their families now face. Do they know that some workers cannot provide sufficient healthy meals for their families? Do they know that some workers have had to remove their children from school? Do they know that some workers have found themselves in a depressed state? Do they know that families have broken up? It seems to us that the stage-show committee, sitting in air-conditioned board rooms far away from the suffering spawned by closure of estates, is unaware of the present-day realities in the communities linked to the now closed estates. The use of catchy names and having nice pictures of meetings mean very little to the workers and their families, who are caught literally between a rock and a hard place. If the committee is really serious, it needs to go to the communities to interact with the workers, find out what are their problems, and devise appropriate solutions to address the difficulties they face. The seeming satellite approach cannot — and in our sincere view will not — work.The GAWU also saw that the Ministry of Natural Resources, according to information received on June 25, 2018, has sponsored a training programme which will train about 100 persons in several fields. Of the 100-person cohort, we recognise, some retrenched sugar workers will benefit. The GAWU welcomes this training programme, which will address a very small amount of the displaced workers.At the same time, we cannot help but wonder whether any careful consideration has been given to trainees securing employment with their new-found skills, as it can very well negate the impact of the training.We also wonder whether any assessment has been done regarding the availability of such skills in Region Six, and whether the trainees will join a saturated market. These, we believe, among other things, should be fully-well-thought-out before embarking on programmes of this nature.At this time, while the grass is growing the horse is starving, and the jobless workers are finding coping harder day by day. The now dismissed sugar workers need urgent action, not cheap talk. Yours faithfully,Seepaul NarineGeneral SecretaryGAWU
Dear Editor,Guyanese recently woke up to the news of another jailbreak. Three dangerous criminals are on the run.The Lusignan prison is once again the focus of attention by concerned, law-abiding Guyanese. Compounding the situation even more is the shooting of 10 inmates who were protesting the abominable conditions at the prison. Reports are rubber bullets, live rounds and tear gas were used to quell the unrest. Water tenders belonging to the Guyana Fire Service had to be called in to extinguish fires lit by angry prisoners.The situation is reminiscent of the disaster that befell the nation on July 2017 when the Camp Street Prison went up in flames.To date, no warning nor danger alert with phone numbers has been issued by law enforcement, calling on citizens to be on the lookout and to report any sightings of the escapees.Khemraj Ramjattan has portfolio for the Guyana Prison Service but it is becoming increasingly obvious to Guyanese that the Minister continues to be at his wits end, if not clueless insofar as solutions to problems that continue to plague the prison system of Guyana are concerned.On assuming office, Ramjattan rejected the sound policies he inherited from the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration that kept the four prison locations secure and habitable with far less resources.Ramjattan pretending to know it all, dispensed with the security policies of the PPP/C Administration and replaced them with adhocracy and a set of hodgepodge directives handed down to him resulting in the current crisis gripping Guyana’s prison system.All the talk about setting up a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the 2017 fiery debacle at the Georgetown Prisons has come to nought. In fact, there was never any intention to do so. As far as the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government was concerned the CoI held in connection with the horrific events in 2016 was enough.Ramjattan abdicated his responsibility by not pressing for a CoI into the destruction of the Camp Street Prison deemed the worst disaster ever in the history of the Guyana Prison Service.Once again, deception became the handmaiden of intransigence and administrative laziness on the part of the APNU/AFC coalition Administration.Talk about dereliction of duty by a Cabinet headed by a President that likes show off his knowledge about security matters, failure to establish a CoI in 2017 is an excellent example of gross negligence by the Government over which he presides.From all appearances, CoI’s are established as a means to an end, especially when Granger wants to get rid of those he dislikes and undesirables holding key positions within an organisation which forms part of the disciplined services.Make no mistake. The CoI’s into the attempted assassination of the President and the Lindo Creek massacre were masquerades aimed at getting rid of certain senior ranks in the Guyana Police Force and Guyana Defence Force and to put in place ranks with whom the Commander in Chief was comfortable.The strategy plan for the Guyana Prison Service aimed at transforming the Guyana Prison Service into a correctional service remains on paper and the civilian unit established to oversee implementation of the plan been reduced to a virtual arm of the Prison Service.The Unit is denied the necessary human and financial resources by the National Security Council chaired by the President himself.We seem to be captivated by a sleepy and hollow syndrome characteristic of those who are responsible for keeping the nation and its populace safe and sound but who chose to spend their time looking out for opportunities to enrich themselves.Yours sincerely,Clement J Rohee
General Secretary of GTUC Lincoln LewisTen months after government’s decision to subvert the Labour Ministry into a department within the Social Protection Ministry, two of Guyana’s prominent trade unions are disgruntled by the decision and has demanded the reestablishment of the ministry.At a joint press conference Monday, the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and Federation of Independent Trades Union of Guyana (FITUG) voiced their concerns on the matter.As the unions are preparing for its May Day Rally, they are reiterating calls for government to rescind its decision to have the ministry reduced to a mere department of labour.As a result of the decision, the unions are complaining that workers do not have an equitable chance of their rights being adequately represented since there seems to be a disjointed ministry for this purpose.General Secretary of GTUC Lincoln Lewis cited that this is the first time in the country’s history that the Ministry of Labour had been ‘pushed out’ even at a time where Guyana is said to be advancing.Lewis underlined the core value of having a labour ministry and its relation to building a country that is sustainable and geared towards development.With the ministry eliminated from government, he said this shows there is no emphasis being placed on workers and more so a representation for their rights.Lewis believes the government had “twisted” the system, since the Ministry of Protection should have been an element of the Ministry of Labour and not the other way around.Since there is no labour ministry, Lewis said there is less engagement with the labour movement and as such there is a reduced chance of having consultations and discussions to address issues within the sector.He stressed that when union issues arise, there is no particular ministry that one can turn to, neither a minister was chosen to independently represent the public servants.After taking to office in May 2015, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change government reconfigured, created, and renamed a number of ministries.The unions appealed to government to review its decision and work in favour of public servants to have the deserved attention placed on a ministry to address their affairs.
Occupational Health and Safety MonthHundreds of persons from Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) joined the Social Protection Ministry on Thursday for a health and fitness walk. The event was organised in observance of Occupational Heath and Safety Month with theme, “Workplace stress: A Collective Challenge.”Persons walking in observance of Occupational Health and Safety MonthOver 120 persons from the Guyana Defence Force, Guyana Police Force, Guyana Fire Service, Ministry of Health and Caricom Rice Mills participated in the walk which commenced at 07:30h from Mainstay Village to Anna Regina.Despite the pouring rain persons marched against the unhealthy and unfair practices at the workplace and also in awareness of the upcoming Vaccination Week (next week) celebrated worldwide.At the end of the walk everyone converged in the compound of the Anna Regina Health Centre where essential information was shared by workers of the Public Health Ministry.