The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) recognised from a letter which appeared in the March 24, 2019, Guyana Chronicle from Dr Joey Jagan, certain accusations were levelled, apparently aimed to tarnish our Union’s reputation and character. Our Union could not help but notice that Dr Joey’s letter appeared in close proximity to the 101st birth anniversary of his father, the indefatigable Dr Cheddi Jagan who was very much associated with the work and victories of our Union during his lifetime.
Also, the letter comes on the eve of Janet Jagan’s memorial activity at Babu Jaan – another outstanding GAWU supporter. Of course, this truism should not be unknown to Dr Joey Jagan. The innuendos contained in his letter, we contend, are baseless, and serve only to demonstrate his clear unfamiliarity with the workings of the sugar industry, though this is surprising considering that both Cheddi and Janet Jagan were closely associated with many of the struggles of the industry’s workers.
Contrary to Dr Joey Jagan’s seemingly, warped thinking the GAWU has never shirked from its responsibility to advance the conditions of workers under its representation. In fact, the Union is committed to ensuring that the well-being of all workers is improved.
This has been reflected by the Union’s activism, not only at the bargaining table, which has brought many benefits and gains to our members. In the letter he charged that “…sugar workers were treated with contempt…”. But we wonder if Dr Joey doesn’t find the treatment by the current Government of workers most contemptuous.
He must know, as it is widely known, that some 7000 sugar workers have lost their jobs during the tenure of the coalition. He should know too that sugar workers remain the only group of workers in the State sector not to have gotten even a dollar as pay increase while those on the top echelons of the Administration approved obscenely humongous increases in their pay and perks.
He would know that the GAWU, a Union Dr Cheddi Jagan served as honorary president for many years, has seen its members being denied paid-release to attend their Union’s congress but such facility has not been denied to other unions and workers. Even Forbes Burnham didn’t treat sugar workers as the inheritors of his party are treating them now-a-days.
Apart from successes scored in our consistent representation with the industry’s overlords we have also, on our own or together with our unions in FITUG raised our voices to advocate policies and programmes to help our working-people generally. Such a stance is inherited from Cheddi Jagan, among others, and continues to guide our efforts today.
Dr Joey continues to show his unfamiliarity with the workings of our Union with the assertion that our Union’s leadership was part of the Government. Contrary to those preposterous lamentations, the GAWU, as it said before, has members who are supportive of all the political groupings in Guyana. We respect and uphold our members right in this regard.
We cannot say with any certainty what has motivated such remarks about GAWU in the letter by Dr Joey. Maybe, it’s an attempt to be relevant at this time. If so, he really has a long, long way to go.