Why has this country come to this?
May 21, 1999
I AM a Guyanese living in the United States.
Guyana is in serious turmoil and the people who are in a position to put an end to it are not doing what's needed to be done.
The strike is not good for the people and for the country.
The people are striking for better wages.
In most strikes around the world, money, working conditions and concessions are the root of the problem.
We are going into the next millennium and many of the workers in Guyana are being paid sub-standard wages.
The Government knows this to be a fact.
When I was growing up in Guyana, the people were proud of their jobs.
Today, many of them are not because they are not being compensated according to competitive standards.
Teachers are the folks who helped nurture great minds like Dr. Fitz Harper, Mr. Fred Wills and many others.
These great people should be highly compensated for taking on such a job. They are not.
Their wages are used up in transportation money.
The nurses are on strike as well and this should have never happened.
These professionals take care of the sick and elderly in our hospitals.
Why has this country come to this?
Only the powers that be can answer this question, and we know they know the answer.
When you are involved in negotiations involving money, the parties involved must be willing to compromise for the betterment of both parties involved.
The unions are requesting a 40 per cent increase and the Government is offering 4.6 per cent.
This offer is for individuals who are making a competitive salary but these people are not.
To solve this problem, let's say the Government offers a 27 per cent raise with concessions for the next couple of years.
This can be looked as a fair amount but thus far I have not read anything which comes remotely close to this.
I hope the parties read this and come up with a good solution that everyone can benefit from.
In the end both sides can be happy.
[Note: Here is the follow-up to the above letter written by Mr. John] Subject: WHAT HAS THIS COUNTRY COME TOO? AN ON GOING ISSUE
ON THIS DAY MAY 26 1999, ITS OUR COUNTRY'S THIRTY THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE FROM ENGLAND. THE HONORABLE PRESIDENT MRS. JANET JAGAN MADE A VERY WELL SPOKEN SPEECH IN WHICH SHE MADE OVERTURES TO UPLIFT THE SPIRITS OF ALL GUYANESE. THE SPEECH PERTAIN MANY IMPORTANT IDEAS TO BRING OUR COUNTRY FROM OBSCURITY. THE BLUEPRINT FOR GUYANA TO GO INTO THE NEXT MILLENNIUM IS SOMEWHAT CLEARER IN SOME RESPECTS.
THE IDEA OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT TO COME INTO GUYANA TO HELP CREATE JOBS IS A GREAT IDEA BUT BRINGING IN FOREIGN INVESTORS MUST BE DONE IN A WAY THAT BOTH PARTIES CAN BENEFIT FROM THE DEAL. I HOPE THIS DEAL IS NOT DONE THE WAY OMNI DEAL WAS BROKERED BECAUSE I THOUGHT GUYANA GOT THE SHORT END OF THAT DEAL.
THE HONORABLE MRS. JAGAN MENTIONED SHE UNDERSTANDS THE PLIGHT IN WHICH MANY GUYANESE ARE LIVING IN. WE ARE ALL COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEINGS IN OUR OWN RIGHT BUT UNLESS AS A PERSON YOU ARE BORN AND RAISE IN THAT SITUATION ONE WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THE PLIGHT. THE PLIGHT RIGHT NOW WHICH FACE MANY GUYANESE ON THIS INDEPENDENCE DAY IS HOW THEY ARE GOING TO MANAGE WITH THEIR STILL SUBSTANDARD WAGES WHICH THEY ARE MAKING. THE MINIMUM WAGE IN AMERICA IS FIVE DOLLARS AND FIFTEEN CENTS AND THESE WORKERS TAKE HOME MORE THAN THE STRIKERS. THERE WILL BE INDIVIDUAL WHO WILL SAY HOW CAN I COMPARE THE TWO. THIS IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE TO SHOW HOW MORE THE GOVERNMENT HAS TO DO. THE FINANCE MINSTER AND EVEN THE HEAD OF THE IMF IS IN PRINT SAYING THAT THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT ABLE TO REACH THE UNIONS DEMANDS OF A FORTY PERCENT RAISE. THE MINISTER SAID THAT GUYANA WILL GO INTO DEBT IF THEY GIVE INTO THE DEMANDS OF THE UNIONS. WE HOPE THAT WHEN THE NEGOTIATIONS ARE ALL HAMMERED OUT, THERE WILL BE A FARE SETTLEMENT TO WHICH THE WORKERS CAN BE SATISFIED.
PEOPLE ARE STILL LIVING IN POVERTY BECAUSE MANY GUYANESE WHO HOLD JOBS ARE STILL MAKING SUBSTANDARD WAGES. THEY ARE WORKING BUT THINGS NOT BETTER FOR MANY OF THEM. I WAS HOME ON VACATION A FEW MONTHS AGO AND THE CONSENSUS FORM MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHICH I SPOKE TO. THEIR SALARIES ARE NOT DOING ENOUGH FOR TO COMPETE WITH THE COST OF LIVING.
WHY HAS THIS COUNTRY COME TO THIS? I THINK OUR LEADERS FOR GOT THE PHRASE "TAKE CARE OF ONE'S HOUSE FIRST BEFORE ANY THING ELSE. THOSE WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND THESE WORDS. HERE IS A FEW WORD WHICH YOU ALL WILL UNDERSTAND CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME. MY POINT TO THIS IS THE GOVERNMENT KNEW THE WORKERS WERE BEING GROSSLY UNDERPAID BY THIS ADMINISTRATION AND THE PREVIOUS ONE. THE TIME HAS COME FOR A CHANGE TO MAKE THE GUYANESE PROUD AGAIN.