THE desire to form, lead, be a member or supporter of any political party, legitimate group or organisation is a constitutionally protected right and freedom. When any seek, in whatever shape or form, to deprive one of such association it constitutes a transgressing of the targeted person’s rights and freedoms. The time has long passed when persons must recognise they cannot want their rights and freedoms to be respected and at the same time actively engage in denying others theirs.
This continuous behavior, where some appreciate holding the PPP/C accountable for raping the economy, transgressing citizens’ rights, embracing extra-judicial killings and other acts of trampling the rule of law, time-honoured principles, universal declarations, conventions and charters must not be singularly focused. Equally as the PPP/C must be held accountable, so too must be the APNU+AFC government for their transgressions.
Double standards must come to an end or it shall continue to meet strong resistance from me. Having been elected by the workers to lead and represent their interests, such responsibility requires of me to deliver leadership that would bring about improvement in their condition of work and standard of living. This leadership shall be fearless equally as I’m prepared to be led. But I shall not be led to embrace activities of the PPP/C government that the APNU and AFC, when in opposition, along with myself and others fought against.
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) condemned poor governance and the mistreatment of citizens and retains abiding interest in righting these wrongs, irrespective of who holds the rein of government. This nation is being reminded of the 2015 Labour Day Rally, held at Critchlow Labour College, both David Granger and Moses Nagamootoo, presidential and prime ministerial candidates, gave the commitment to the labour movement that should they be elected to office collective bargaining will be restored and they will govern consistent with the constitutional requirement of “inclusionary democracy.” A communique with a menu of measures was agreed upon between the coalition and the GTUC. Today this communique is being ignored in its entirety.
At the 2015 rally the GTUC called on the workers/citizens to fire the PPP/C and hire the APNU+AFC. This government is in its third year and for every year since it has been in office it has trampled the fundamental principles of collective bargaining, imposed wages/salaries on state workers, finding little time to sit with the workers’ representative at the negotiation table, and can always find an excuse not to engage or defer engagement.
The same thing Granger and Nagamootoo condemned the Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar governments for doing they continue to do and in many instances not singular to collective bargaining, though in some areas this administration has done better than its predecessors. However, citizens/workers clamour to see the back of all the PPP’s dastardly acts and it is deserving.
Labour leaders have advised me that when workers have cause to express their dissatisfaction over issues and seek to bring about resolution, when some ministers are called and advised of the restlessness in the workforce they are met with statements such as “if they want protest, let dem protest,” or “if they want strike, leh deh go and strike, we tired ah dem.”
Progressive politics is about people and people’s development. Shrewd politicians when they secure the electorate’s mandate, irrespective of being in the executive or legislature, opposition or administration, will seek to perform better than their opponent. Unfortunately in our politics persons are not universally wedded to this principle. When “Rambo” announced some days ago his disgust with the current political leadership on both sides, and that he is considering forming a socialist party to address what he considers mismanagement of the society and workers/citizens not getting a fair share of the nation’s pie, it is being met with visceral reactions in the coalition’s corner.
He is being accused of sinister intent with the aim to split the votes in 2020 to ensure the PPP’s return to office.
I too am coming in for attention, given that the news outlet that carried the story used a picture of him and me sitting at the table of the symposium he hosted, where the announcement was made. None other than ACDA saw it worthy to come on my facebook page, accusing me of joining with others to undermine the PNC. This organisation has no moral authority to make such a claim, given the newspaper advertisement it took out in the 2006 election period calling on the black community not to go to the polls. That election saw the PNC having its poorest showing ever.
This garrison politics some want to play, on both sides of the political divide, not only transgresses rights and freedoms but it hinders development since progressive politics-i.e. issue-based- is not being allowed to shine through. Where leaders are not held accountable to govern and manage in the interest of the collective good, society can never progress.
The issues “Rambo” noted that are influencing his desire to form a party stems from what he thinks this government, like the previous, is not governing and managing the nation’s resources in the interest of the masses. He zeroed in on the importance of rebuilding the cooperative economy, which has served the development of the small man since post slavery. He also addressed the management of our natural resources, alienation of the youth in national development, improving the lot of the working class and the absence of a comprehensive programme to tackle poverty in the villages.
What was instructive about his forum is that some of the issues he attended to are anchored in the Caribbean Labour Platform, many of which were taken on board by CARICOM as areas to work with Labour and other stakeholders during the tenure of Secretary-General Edwin Carrington. This platform was prepared under my leadership as President of the Caribbean Congress of Labour, but where other CARICOM member states find this document worthwhile and are using it to guide governance by involving stakeholders in their decision-making processes, Guyana ignores it.
Labour has permanent interests and its constituents cut across political parties, requiring it working with all and holding all accountable towards the fulfilment of its interests. Consistent with respecting the rights of our constituents and responsibility to improve their quality of life, labour shall work with those who respect its role as a constitutional stakeholder in the participation in and management of the nation’s economy and decision-making.
This opportunity is taken to urge Rambo to go boldly ahead. Continue to walk across this country and bring awareness to the people of what they deserve, are entitled to, and are capable of doing. Those who are offended by his intent let me advise that it makes no sense attacking him. Go to your government and tell the leaders they are failing to do the right thing. Elections are won in many ways, inclusive of going to the polls, staying away, or giving your vote to another.
Nobody is entitled to your vote. You are entitled to say who you want to give it to and/or whether you will give it. At the same time, it is important to note it was the trade union that began the fight for this right (1926) and retains vested interest in protecting it and calling on you to exercise it.