Eight months have gone by since 20 fathers who were employed under the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), have been struggling to regain employment so they could provide for their families.
For now, the men have been reluctantly dipping into their savings and searching for “small jobs” here and there in order to make ends meet.
After receiving the royal runaround from several related agencies and persons, including Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, the men said that they took to their last resort – the media – to highlight their situation and call on the relevant authorities to right the injustice they believe was done to them.
The men were employed as labourers, tasked with the responsibility of cleaning up the drains and other areas in their community– Cove and John, East Coast Demerara (ECD).
They were divided into three groups, each being responsible for a specific area.
Given the magnitude of the work and the consistency to keep the community looking clean, each group leader would hire other persons from the community to aid in executing the cleaning exercises, thus providing other meaningful job opportunities for the locals.
Their last clean-up was in December 2015. In January, they had been informed that their services were no longer needed and that new clean-up groups were created.
The size of the groups has been reduced significantly and consists of members from other communities.
Apart from their claims of being “unjustly terminated”, the men are concerned about the quality of work being done by the new group.
During an interview with Guyana Times the men complained that the new group is doing substandard work and attributed this to the fact that the labourers are not residents of the community and therefore would not take pride in keeping it clean.
Reasons for dismissal
After realising that they were dismissed without reason, the men said they approached their “boss”, CDC Assistant Director Ernest Elliot. According to the men, he was unhelpful in providing direct answers on reasons for their termination.
In fact, they alleged that he was rude in his responses, which they said had an undertone of vengeance.
From their engagement with the CDC assistant director, the men strongly believe their termination was another act of political discrimination being practised by government.
“I think its cause we’re PPP people and that’s why. Because when we met with him, he kept saying that PPP went on sheer skulduggery all the time. He keep using that word, ‘skulduggery’. He musse use it about four or five times,” one of the men, Besham Persaud noted.
The men explained that they visited several other agencies, including the Communities Ministry where, after a number of trips, they finally got a brief meeting with the Minister.
However, they said the meeting was absolutely disappointing since he did not provide any definitive solution to their problems.
The men also wrote several letters to the Agriculture Ministry and the Office of the Prime Minister, calling on them to intervene to ensure that they regain a legitimate means of earning a livelihood.
Persaud has been working as a labourer for the past 15 years, and therefore the dismissal comes as a huge blow for him and family.
“I struggling whe I deh. Sure I find a few jobs now and then, but with that one, I knew for sure I had it cause how often a small job does come up,” he expressed, noting that he has two children, ages 17 and 4.
Hardat Singh, another of the men, expressed similar concerns, noting that his family is currently draining their savings as he searches for another job while simultaneously trying to seek justice from what he describes as being “unjustifiably terminated.”
Roopdeo Samaroo also highlighted his financial struggles, noting that he has two young children who are returning to school today, even as he is financially strapped.
Shortly after the government assumed office, concerns have been raised time and again about the spate of dismissals of persons who were perceived to be affiliated with the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C).