Steady decline at, and with, the Guyana Local Government Officers Union

Dear Editor,
The Trade Union Movement in Guyana, which was founded by the late Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow in 1919, was once a powerful force in our country. However, today a number of trade unions in Guyana have lost their way, principal among them is the Guyana Local Government Officers (GLGOU) Union, and this is as a result of political affiliation, nepotism and cronyism.
Not only is this shameful and unacceptable, but some members of this union have become so emboldened that, most recently, they held an election that was not only questionable, but was riddled with malpractice and manipulation. How could this union hold an election without calling an Annual General Meeting and without inviting each and every one of its members to attend and participate? How could vendors who are neither members of the union nor municipal employees be attending and voting for office bearers to the executive of this union?
But, then again, this union has been suffering from poor leadership and the toxic effects of a line of hereditary succession of friends and family for the longest while; and so, finally, the chickens have come home to roost.
The representation provided by the GLGOU to municipal workers has, for decades now, been woefully ineffectual, inadequate, and in fact useless, to say the least. This trade union organization should be about defending and advancing the rights, struggles and overall interests of municipal workers across the board, but this is only done for a very few. The lack of impartiality by the leadership of this union over time and the playing of politics with the lives and livelihoods of its members have been most distasteful and destructive.
In many of the instances, the presidents of this union have remained in office, to continue enjoying the perks and privileges, long after their membership to this union should have expired, upon their retirement from their municipal posts. In fact, to hang on to the presidency long after they retired, they even toyed with the idea of expanding the membership base and parameters of the union by trying to rename it the ‘General and Local Government Workers’ Union (GLGWU)’. Of course, this effort was never legitimised, so this attempted sham never saw the light of day.
If this union is to earn respect and credibility in the wider Guyanese society and at the bargaining table, it must elect, through a legitimate process, an executive that has competent, qualified, experienced, reputable, eminent, and widely-known persons.
Indeed, one has to wonder whether the Registrar of Trade Unions is ensuring that this union is maintaining compliance with Guyana’s Trade Union Act in the management of its affairs in a transparent and publicly accountable manner.
The Trade Union Act expressly requires every treasurer or other officer of a union to render to the trustees and the members of the union, at a duly constituted meeting of the union, a just and true account of monies received and paid, funds remaining, and all bonds and securities of the union. The general membership of this union has not been benefitting from this information or standard operational procedure for years now.
It is time for all members to demand better from this union.

Abidemi James