Spare a moment to reflect on the journey, challenges and successes – GAWU on Arrival Day

Our rich cultural tapestry is one of the several features that set Guyana apart from many of its contemporaries. As a people, we take great pride in our diversity and the coexistence of our several cultural groupings. It is against this background that the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) extends best wishes to all Guyanese, both at home and further afield, on the occasion of Arrival Day. This important observance is yet another reminder of what makes Guyana special, and what plays a role in our renowned hospitality and welcoming spirit.
While Arrival Day, May 05 – though largely associated with the arrival of East Indians – reminds us of all indentured immigrants brought to our land, our research advises us that, outside of the East Indians, the Madeiran Portuguese came in May 1835, the Chinese in 1853, as well as a few other ethnicities during that phase of colonialism. We are aware that the colonialists also brought labourers from Malta, Ireland, Germany and England.
Arrival Day also reminds us of the reasons for the indentureship system. The then immigrants, who replaced the emancipated slaves, were made to toil in the fields of the sugar plantations to enrich the foreign owners of the plantations. Indentured labourers and their families were forced to exist in inhumane and atrocious conditions, and like their compatriots, were forced to engage in several struggles – which gave us several martyrs – in order to bring about small improvements and meagre benefits in their lives and working conditions.
As we observe Arrival Day, the GAWU is constrained to remind that our unique culture has a common thread in the sugar industry. It is that historical industry which binds a great lot of our peoples. We remind as well that it is the very industry on which modern Guyana is built through the labours of many of our peoples.
As Arrival Day is once again commemorated, we remain saddened over the affairs of this important industry. At this time, a legacy of mismanagement has invoked severe setbacks and undue pains. Though we recognise and appreciate efforts to breathe new life into the industry, we remain concerned over the seeming inability of the current managerial cadre to grasp the situation inherited. We harbour apprehension, as we consider data which demonstrates not a welcome direction.
Critically, given the linkages between Arrival Day and sugar, we urge the need to strengthen the current management with skilled and capable personnel. We believe this would be an appropriate tribute to those who toiled in the fields and factories, and on whose contributions we proudly stand today.
As we celebrate Arrival Day, the GAWU urges all Guyanese to spare a moment to reflect on how far, as a people, we have come, the challenges we overcame, and the successes we have recorded. At this time, when we ought to be looking to reach new and higher plateaus, we see concerted efforts that would very likely reverse much of the progress we have made, and rightly can take pride in. Let us resist such efforts, and get back on the development track.