Guaranteeing interests of perceived losers essential for progress - union leader

Stabroek News
April 3, 2001

General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis, has written to President Bharrat Jagdeo listing several areas which he said "cry out for attention."

Lewis stated in his letter that the recent general elections brought to the fore the important issue of governance, which he said must guarantee the welfare and well-being of all Guyanese.

"Guaranteeing the interests of those who are perceived as being on the losing side is an essential prerequisite for peace, stability and progress in our country," Lewis stated.

He opined that the events of the past few weeks had demonstrated that Guyana still embraced the "winners and losers" concept.

The GTUC is requesting that the government urgently address ethnic security in the country, rationalise governance, restore the professionalism of the public service, reinvigorate the bauxite industry, provide housing, create jobs, and get rid of graft and corruption.

Lewis declared the labour movement's commitment to work with the government in the interest of realising the objectives set out.

The GTUC general secretary contended that a substantial section of the population was convinced that the government existed primarily to serve the interests of one particular ethnic group.

He said this section of the population was no longer prepared to accept this and the administration must change this perception in the earliest possible time.

The GTUC was recommending that there be a network of institutions, which must ensure that critical national decisions are preceded by genuine bi-partisan consultation.

This could be done through a regime of parliamentary committees and independent boards.

Lewis charged that much damage had been done to the public service as a result of the erosion of the principles of meritocracy, the "tinkering" with important constitutional mechanisms, and the political victimisation of public officers.

"The restoration of lawfulness and respect for constitutional mechanisms are important prerequisites for the removal of the image of bias which informs perceptions regarding the manner in which the public service is administered," Lewis stated.

He said workers in the bauxite industry continued to be frustrated at being denied similar assurances by government as that given to the sugar industry.

The GTUC general secretary pointed out that a land distribution policy, which was not attended by a facility to enable access to capital for house construction, was meaningless to working people.

He also noted that if unemployment continued unchecked, the scourge of drug proliferation and violent crime would eventually take complete control of the society.