Workers’ unions, leaders set up body to push for electoral reforms
A group of labour unions, leaders and ordinary workers have joined forces to establish the ‘Labour for Electoral Reform’ – a body focusing on championing the need for electoral reform in Guyana.
In a statement on Thursday, the new organisation said the five-month impasse following the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections remains vivid in the minds of many of the nation’s workers.
“Many workers, during that period and after, expressed and continue to express anxieties over the attempts to undermine our democracy. Several expressed consternation that, had our democratic rights been lost what other rights, our people stood to lose; or whether any of their rights would have been preserved. The dangerous precipice that our country confronted has caused workers to harbour doubts of the institutions and mechanisms that are charged with consolidating our fledgling democracy,” the new body has stated.
This sentiment, according to the Labour for Electoral Reform, is one that is felt broadly throughout the nation and one that no right-thinking Guyanese can ignore.
It was against this background that workers’ leaders and bodies, having shared their views on the issue, decided recently to establish the ‘Labour for Electoral Reform’. They recognise that the current system is susceptible and requires strengthening to enjoy the confidence of the Guyanese people.
“We see our establishment as timely, recognising that efforts are underway to advance serious considerations of electoral reform. Indeed, as genuine representatives of our working-people, our group is eager to have an opportunity to express our views and share our thoughts on areas for reform. In the coming days and weeks, we hope to fine-tune further our proposals as we begin to advance our cause and to speak on the behalf of our workers on this important and essential issue,” the entity has said.
The Labour for Electoral Reform will be led by General Secretary of the Guyana Labour Union (GLU), Carvil Duncan, and its Secretary is General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Aslim Singh.
Speaking with this newspaper on Thursday, Singh explained that the entity is hoping to engage more with workers on their concerns and views on electoral reform.
“So, one of the first (courses) of action is to get a broad view of what workers think or what are their views on this whole concept of electoral reform. Of course, there are many ideas that have been floating in society, but this is to look at it from a worker’s perspective… These will be channelled to the relevant authorities and, of course, the Government,” he stated.
Singh further pointed out that the new body is hoping to meet with the International Republican Institute (IRI), which is currently working on a project to strengthen the capacity of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), and the Attorney General’s Chambers, to lay the groundwork as it relates to electoral reform. The 18-month project is being supported by US Department of State.
Only recently, President Dr Irfaan Ali reassured that constitutional and electoral reforms are still a top priority for his administration. He noted that work is already ongoing on both fronts.
During a press conference last month, the Head of State, in response to a question from Guyana Times, contended that those reforms are “indeed critical.”
According to President Ali, there is a lot of work currently ongoing regarding electoral reform.
“A lot of international agencies are in discussions with both GECOM and the different stakeholders. But, more importantly, we, as a people, have to start the discussion on electoral reform, but that is high on the agenda. Also important on that agenda is the strengthening of GECOM and the internal reform of GECOM itself. So that we can have the best professionals in there managing and running an election,” the President posited.
The need for constitutional, and moreso electoral, reform was underscored following last year’s March elections, which led to a five-month tumultuous impasse. (G8)