Labour leaders concerned about globalisation
Guyana Chronicle
May 2, 2004

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LABOUR leaders yesterday expressed concern about the effects of globalisation on developing countries like Guyana, and stressed that plans and projections cannot be made without considering the phenomenon.

Management and labour, President of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Mr. Carvil Duncan said, must find new ways of cooperation to ensure that the local economy adjusts to the coming realities. The union, he said, stands ready to consider innovative ideas and to offer its own suggestions.

“We are for the retraining of workers, not the creation of redundancies; we are for restructuring of enterprise, not the reduction of the labour force; we are for modifications not the elimination of benefits,” Duncan said,

He added: We are hopeful that the negotiation efforts to create a CARICOM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will provide our economy the assistance it needs to transition by 2007 into the new trading realities that are upon us,” Duncan told the GTUC rally at Critchlow Labour College on Woolford Avenue.

President of the Guyana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) Mr. Komal Chand in his address to workers at the National Insurance Scheme Sports Club Ground, Carifesta Avenue, also spoke of current global trends, pointing out that in most, if not all countries, the rules of bodies like the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, make life for the majority of workers worldwide “treacherous and undignified.”

He said the current policies set by the WTO and the international financial institutions include trade deregularisation, privatization, weakening of collective bargaining and financial liberalisation. He said that these policies have not answered the questions of poverty, inequality and hunger among the world’s working peoples.

“No wonder in the world today the class struggle has become fiercer. The hostility between capital and labour is becoming stronger. There are more strikes and disruptions, (and) the confrontation to the WTO is becoming sharper,” Chand said.

The GAWU leader also quoted statistics from a paper `A Global Strategy for Labour’ by Jeff Faux, who is a member of Global Policy Network Steering Committee, and former President of Economic Policy Institute of the US. In that paper, Faux states: “The median income of the richest ten countries was 77 times that of the ten poorest in 1980, and 149 times in 1999. The income of the richest 10 per cent of the world’s people was 70 times that of the poorest 10 per cent in 1980 and 122 times in 1999.”

According to Chand, this growing inequality between peoples is also the grim reality that exists between nations.

“A few nations remain and grow wealthier, while many, especially in South Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East and the Caribbean grow seemingly poorer,” he said.