Today is “Labour Day” – a special public holiday set aside for the workers of Guyana to reflect on their condition and to bring their concerns to the rest of the populace.
The observance of Labour Day 2019 comes at a time when thousands of persons are unemployed in Guyana.
Since May 2015 when the current Administration took office, 2000 Indigenous persons and a large number of qualified public servants and contract workers were relieved of their jobs almost immediately after that election. Thousands of sugar workers were left jobless when the Government, without any form of social impact assessment, closed some sugar estates under the pretext they were not viable. In doing so, it contradicted its own study giving credence to the belief that its action to close the estates was politically motivated. The present Government campaigned on the promise that it would provide thousands of jobs for citizens, but so far, hardly any tangible effort was made in this regard. And in fact with the dismissals, it is the opposite. At present, the youth unemployment rate in Guyana is a stunning 40 per cent.
Political leaders around the world have been encouraging young people to play an integral role in the development of their communities and countries by getting actively involved in the decision-making processes of their societies.
They have posited, time and time again, that “young people are tomorrow’s leaders” as they underscored the importance of equipping youths with the requisite skills, knowledge, and resources that are necessary to make a positive impact on the world.
This has resulted in some experienced and genuine politicians lobbying within the executive and legislative branches of their respective Governments for larger investments to be channelled towards education, as a sector, and youth development. There has also been a dedicated campaign on the part of some modern-minded politicians aimed at fighting for youths to be included as a serious and permanent partner in the democratic structure and decision-making inner group of Governments and leading national policy-making bodies around the world.
In Guyana, youths aspire to achieve ownership of their own homes; an education on which they could secure opportunities to various career paths in order for them to make their mark and change the world in which they reside; and a family that could thrive and lead a good life.
However, with many youths left unemployed, it can be felt that young people are not treated with the respect they deserve. If they are seriously the leaders of tomorrow, then the present crop of today’s politicians need to give way so that they can directly impact tomorrow’s policies.
That said, unemployment and poverty are two of the main challenges that countries, both developed and developing, are faced with at present. Unemployment leads to financial crises and reduces the overall purchasing capacity of a nation. This in turn results in persons getting in the bracket of poverty followed by increasing burden of debt.
The Government has not offered any practical solution to create jobs to help mitigate the challenges faced by the unemployed young people. It keeps peddling its uninspiring “plantain chips” and “cook-up rice” policy, which some have deemed laughable and which clearly demonstrates a dearth of economic ideas to advance the country and improved the lives of its people.
Today, the trade unions that represent the interests of labour will be marching in the streets to show their solidarity; they should show solidarity for the thousands who are unemployed.
The Government must act more swiftly to save our youths from a life of crime and criminality, poverty, and social stagnation which unemployment brings.