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Media Releases

These are the Media releases recently issued by the Union and other organisations/people..

NWU SAY LOCK THEM UP

posted 7 Oct 2020, 14:54 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 7 Oct 2020, 14:55 ]

DPP ROGER GASPARD
While many in the country were focussing on the budget, many workers who have been retrenched have been subjected to criminality by employers, who seem to believe that they could get away with illegal acts and further downpress already demoralised workers.


The following letter dated 5th October, 2020 was sent to Mr. Roger Gaspard, Director of Public Prosecutions from the National Workers Union (NWU). It was signed by President Dave Smith and General Secretary, Carla Walcott.


Dear Mr. Gaspard,

Within recent times, several of the retrenched workers from The Myerson Company Limited have approached our Union for advice and representation. In the process, they raised with us some concerns over their contributions to NIS, only to discover that no contributions were remitted to NIB for parts of 2018, none for 2019 nor 2020.

The Union sought a written explanation from the Company but to no avail. The employer did not comply with Section 38A of the NIS Act when they failed to give each such worker a statement of contributions deducted and paid to nib for the year within 30 days of termination of employment. This is a criminal offence and is punishable on summary conviction with a fine of four thousand dollars ($4,000.00) and six (6) months imprisonment.

In addition, under Section 40 of the Act, an employer who fails or neglects to pay or effect payment of contribution is also committing another criminal offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of four thousand dollars ($4,000.00) and six (6) months imprisonment.

Our Union has had similar complaints for quite some time from other groups of workers. The time has come to enforce the law. The situation affects thousands of workers. The Annual Reports of NIB showed that in 2018, employers were in arrears of over $437m. In 2017employer arrears amounted to $565m. In 2016 it was $383m. In fact, every year employers’ arrears are hundreds of millions of dollars. It certainly appears that the law is broken with impunity by employers. These criminal offences must neither be condoned nor allowed to continue.

In the circumstances, we are calling on you to take the necessary steps to launch an investigation into the arrears owed by employers and their failure to give terminated workers certificates of contributions paid to NIB under Section 38 of the NIS Act. The time has come to bring the offending parties to justice.


FOR EASE OF REFERENCE:

National Insurance Act, Chapter 32:01

38 (A) Every employer shall issue his employee within thirty days of termination of employment of such employee a certificate setting out—

(a) the employee’s total insurable wages for the contribution year;

(b) the total amount of contributions deducted from those wages;

(c) the total amount of contributions paid to the Board; and

(d) the number of contribution weeks covered by those contributions.

(2) A copy of the certificate issued to the employee shall be forwarded to the Board on the same day the certificate is issued to the employee.

(3) An employer who fails to issue the certificate referred to in this section to an employee or fails to forward a copy of such certificate to the Board is liable on summary conviction to a fine of four thousand dollars and to imprisonment for six months.


40. An employer who fails or neglects to pay or effect payment of contribution in respect of any person in his employment who is required to be insured under this Act, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of four thousand dollars and six months imprisonment and in the case of a continuing offence shall be liable in respect of each person for whom he neglected or failed to pay or effect payment of contribution, a further fine of one hundred dollars a day for each day that the offence continues after conviction

FITUN ON UNC TO AMERICAN AMBASSADOR

posted 2 May 2020, 18:02 by Gerry Kangalee


Whoever Wins this Election, All of Guyana Loses: By Moses Bhagwan and Eusi Kwayana

posted 9 Mar 2020, 13:16 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 9 Mar 2020, 13:30 ]


From 1957, Moses Bhagwan became active in Guyanese public life and liberation politics through many organizations, including the People’s Progressive Party, the Progressive Youth Organization, The Success Movement, the Indian Political Revolutionary Associates, the Working People’s Alliance and the WPA Overseas Associates.

He served as a Member of Parliament from 1961-1968 and was also actively involved in community renewal, sports and religious affairs. Initially a teacher and civil servant, he became an Attorney at Law, practising in the Courts of Guyana since 1970. Moses Bhagwan now resides in New York He is the author of the book Ancestors of the River
A Call for a Government of National Unity 


We write as two Guyanese who have come out of the leadership of both major parties, who 
have lived through the violence of the 1960


Eusi Kwayana, formerly Sydney King (born 4 April 1925),[1] is a Guyanese politician. A cabinet minister in the People's Progressive Party (PPP) government of 1953, he was detained by the British Army in 1954. Later he left the PPP to form ASCRIA (African Society for Cultural Relations with Independent Africa), a Pan-Africanist grassroots political group that, after a brief flirtation with the People's National Congress (PNC) of Forbes Burnham, fused into the Working People's Alliance (WPA).

During the 1940s he began to be politically active at the village level. Around 1947 (at that time known as Sydney King), he became a member of a small group of politicians, led by Cheddi Jagan, who formed the People’s Progressive Party.

After the PPP won in Guyana’s first election under universal adult suffrage, Kwayana became Minister of Communication and Works. After the British government suspended the constitution and threw the PPP out of office, in October 1953, Kwayana and others were made political detainees for fear that they would cause civil unrest. He was an executive member of both the PPP and subsequently the (PNC).

Kwayana co-founded the African Society for Racial Equality (ASRE), and later, the African Society for Cultural Relations with Independent Africa (ASCRIA) which in 1974 became part of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA). He was a member of the WPA's collective leadership and worked closely with the late Walter Rodney.

He is the author of several books.
s, and who have been following with deep sadness and alarm the news of the outbreak of conflict following a mainly peaceful electoral campaign and voting process in our beloved country. People’s lives have been disrupted in the past week, and a sense of fear and mistrust is rapidly taking over our communities. History teaches us that mistrust canlead to violence, if it is not nipped in the bud. 

As we have already witnessed, it is the most vulnerable among us who will suffer the most. Irresponsible leadership very rarely gets affected by the disputes they consciously sow. A very dangerous situation is fast approaching. We add our voice to statements of concern already made, and ask political leaders to come together and issue a joint statement to all of their supporters and all Guyanese, calling for peace and for an end to violence or the threat of violence and intimidation. Further, we call on the two majorpolitical leaders and parties to put the interest of Guyana on the table, to surrender their narrow goals, and to use the division of spoils as the basis of an immediate agreement of a joint government, based on the verified results of the 2020 elections. 

We underline the need for everyone involved in the elections machinery to fully abide by the spirit and direction of the Representation of The People’s Act. It is fortunate that the international observers are present. This makes it possible for them to evaluate any claims of evidence of illegality in the elections process and to bring these to light. Illegalities in elections must be condemned by umpires. At the same time, we also condemn all attempts by participants who speak about the rule of law, while they engage in disruptive tactics to enforce their will. All these actions, as well as alleged misconduct by authorized officials, contribute to divisions and chaos in the society.

In such a deeply divided nation, it remains possible for the leaders of the major parties to deescalate the situation by finding a mutually agreeable solution. This can be done irrespective of the outcome in the courts, irrespective of the final declaration of results by GECOM, irrespective of local, regional and international observers finally signing off on a credible election result. 

If nothing else, the events of the past week have underlined forcefully that regardless of who wins under this current winner take all system, Guyana as a whole loses. A seat one way or the other, a margin of victory one way or the other, will not solve this dilemma. We simply cannot continue to kick the can down the road for yet another five years. Postponing
the problem will not make it disappear. We cannot continue to accept the reluctance of the two main political parties that have brought us to this point, a reluctance that so far seems totally oblivious to the consequences that have played out in such predictable and devastating ways this past week. The security of the supporters of one major party cannot be premised on the insecurity of the supporters of the other. It is a system that guarantees that most Guyanese, starting with those most vulnerable among us, will always be shut out.

Until the system changes, whoever wins, Guyana loses.

To the leaders of APNU-AFC and the PPP, we ask you to hold your heads high and operate with integrity and humility. We ask that you find the grace to enter without delay into talks to establish a national government based on the principle of parity. Such negotiations would necessarily have to be consistent with the constitution, but it is entirely possible to envision a situation, for example, in which the winner of the 2020 elections takes the presidency but asks their prime ministerial candidate to resign so that someone from the other major party can be appointed; and where a collective cabinet can be appointed. Such a compromise would also give greater latitude to MP’sto vote against the government instead of following the herd, offering greater opportunities for accountability against corruption. 

This breathing space can be an opportunity to take a collective breath, and importantly provide an opportunity for our political leaders to work together on common issues. We do not anticipate that this will be easy. We call for it because it is precisely under such conditions of extreme political polarisation and mistrust that the hard but urgent and necessary work of healing for nation building is called for.

We do not claim originality in our proposal. The national spirit was evident in the political approach by leaders of both the PNC and PPP in the 1960s, in the face of a threat of lasting ethnic divisions. Following the breakdown of constitutional talks in London in the early 1960s, the leader of the PNC responded to the suggestion proposed by the United Nations anti-colonial committee for a PPP-PNC coalition to resolve the conflict, indicating that he would only agree on the condition of parity. It was a position that was not initially favoured by the PPP but members would later agree, with no less than the leader of the PPP becoming one of the foremost advocates of this position. This window of opportunity did not materialise, and over fifty years later we continue to experience the effects of that failure. No less of a visionary approach is demanded in the current situation, so much more dangerous and threatening to our beloved Guyana.

BIGWU STATEMENT ON DEMONETISATION, MONEY LAUNDERING AND OTHER CORRUPT FINANCIAL ACTIVITIES.

posted 18 Dec 2019, 19:15 by Gerry Kangalee

THE ATTACHED STATEMENT WAS ISSUED BY THE BANKING INSURANCE AND GENERAL WORKERS (UNION BIGWU) ON 18TH DECEMBER 2019 (CLICK HERE)

NWU: DUKE DETENTION DISTURBING

posted 28 Aug 2019, 06:02 by Gerry Kangalee

On 2019-08-27 , the National Workers Union issued the following statement


The National Workers Union (NWU) calls on the national community not to take the detention of Watson Duke lightly. It is meant to intimidate and cower, not only leaders of the trade union movement, but all who, in the eyes of the political elite, pose a threat to their continuing to reap the fruits of office.

It is disturbing that the police have not made a comprehensive statement on the issue which clarifies the nature of the so-called investigation. Information in the public sphere seems to suggest that Mr. Duke is being investigated for statements made months ago and which are said to be seditious.

Over the last few months the notion of sedition seems to have crept into the political lexicon. Instead of repealing this oppressive colonial law which tramples upon the freedom of speech of those who speak for the voiceless, the working people, the poor and the oppressed, the political elite seems quite comfortable in attempting to muzzle views at variance with and opposed to theirs.

The Sedition Act of 1920 was passed into law by the colonial government as a reaction to the tremendous workers uprising and general strike of 1919, which ushered in the modern period of the workers movement.

The Sedition Act has been amended four times since its enactment, instead of it being taken off the books. The Act states it is an “An Act to provide for the punishment of seditious acts assed.

A seditious opinion is defined in the Act as: an intention— (a) to bring into hatred or contempt, or to excite disaffection against Government or the Constitution as by law established …

(b) to excite any person to attempt, otherwise than by lawful means, to procure the alteration of any matter in the State by law established;

(c) to raise discontent or disaffection amongst inhabitants of Trinidad and Tobago;

(d) to engender or promote— (i) feelings of ill-will or hostility between one or more sections of the community on the one hand and any other section or sections of the community on the other hand; or (ii) feelings of ill-will towards, hostility to or contempt for any class of inhabitants of Trinidad and Tobago distinguished by race, colour, religion, profession, calling or employment; or

(e) to advocate or promote, with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, the commission of any of the following acts, namely: (i) killing members of the group; or (ii) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction. These definitions are so open to interpretation that they are a lawyer’s delight.

Some of the labour leaders of the 1919 general strike were charged with sedition as were Uriah Butler, Jim Barrette, Elma Francois, Bertie Percival and other labour leaders of the 1937 anti-colonial uprising. Duke, whether deserving or not, is in good company.

Instead of utilising its resources to suppress rampant criminality, the police service is being used to persecute those who are not in the good graces of the political directorate. How is it that a statement made months ago has resulted in Duke’s detention? Did it take that long to decide on whether the statement was seditious or not?

According to the Act a “person shall not be prosecuted under this Act without the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.”
Is the DPP part of this investigation?

The NWU warns the national community that this development does not bode well for the volatile political and social situation in the country. This may be the opening act in a play which involves the new-found interest by the Prime Minister in the working conditions of public service officers. Following on the savage destruction of jobs in Petrotrin and TSTT, is it that public officers are on the chopping block?

The National Workers Union warns the national community that this assault on the hard-won rights of the people will not be restricted to the labour movement. We wonder what the Chamber of Commerce and the one percent, who are posing as defenders of free speech, have to say about this one.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer – Cell: 785-7637)

CALL FOR PAPERS: Anti-Imperialism in the Twentieth Century Caribbean

posted 20 Jun 2019, 20:02 by Gerry Kangalee

CALL FOR PAPERS Anti-Imperialism in the Twentieth Century Caribbean 

A Special Issue to be published in Journal of Labor and Society Paper Submission Deadline Date: 01-01-2020 Special Issue Co-Editors: Godfrey Vincent, Associate Professor, Department of History, Tuskeegee University, Tuskeegee, Alabama, USA Herbert Brewer, Assistant Professor of History & Coordinator, African American and African Diaspora Studies Program, Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (CONTINUE HERE)

NWU: STAND UP AND FIGHT OR CONTINUE TO LIE DOWN AND TAKE!

posted 18 Jun 2019, 20:40 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 18 Jun 2019, 20:45 ]

STAND UP AND FIGHT OR CONTINUE TO LIE DOWN AND TAKE!

Either we stand up and fight or we lie down and take! This was made by the late Comrade Thelma Williams whenever she addressed workers. The situation in which working people find themselves today demonstrates the correctness of the call made by Comrade Williams. 


We are in the midst of the greatest crisis faced by working people since the nineteen thirties. Not only has our plantation economy crashed, but the colonial social and political institutions imposed upon us are falling apart.

Parliament, the police, the judiciary, the church, the banks and conglomerates, the education system, the trade unions no longer command respect and are widely considered to be corrupt to the core.

Our country has become a killing field, where crime has become the leading industry involving international cartels run by Chinese Tongs, Mexican and other drug cartels, politicians, immigration and custom officials, parasitic lawyers, one percent importers and distributors, police and defence force officials and street level gundoleros.

We have become notorious as a country where human labour and sex trafficking has become widespread; where slaves are imported and young Latina women forced into the sex trade. Parasitic lawyers and security firms are making a killing and have a vested interest in the crime situation not being reined in.

The hustlers and confidence tricksters who call themselves politicians are only concerned with looting public funds, regardless of the damage they are doing to the quality of life of working people and the poor. We all know the precarious situation in which working people find themselves. The one percent who control the politicians have rammed the shaft straight up the backsides of working people and the poor.

Not only are they not satisfied with maximising their profits during this economic crisis by minimising their labour costs through retrenchment, wage suppression and the cutting back of hard won benefits; they are jumping up and wining now that they can deepen the exploitation of our Spanish speaking neighbours who have been denied the protection, as minimal as it is, of our labour laws.

Thousands of workers have been retrenched since Labour Day 2018 and continue to be retrenched. Workers at Petrotrin, TSTT, Trinidad Cement, RBC, Berger Paints and so many other firms have had their jobs stolen from them. The standard of living of tens of thousands, particularly in the Southland has been devastated. The gains made by working people through their intervention in the 1930s and 1970 are being reversed.

In the past when workers were subjected to the kind of attacks we are being subjected to now, we used to turn to our trade union
Thousands of workers have been retrenched since Labour Day 2018 and continue to be retrenched. Workers at Petrotrin, TSTT, Trinidad Cement, RBC, Berger Paints and so many other firms have had their jobs stolen from them. The standard of living of tens of thousands, particularly in the Southland has been devastated. The gains made by working people through their intervention in the 1930s and 1970 are being reversed. 
leaders for direction and support. Trade unions were built by workers as a defence mechanism to beat off the excesses that the capitalist system generates and to adjust the balance of power between those who produce and those who huff the fruits of production; between employer and worker; between the oppressor and the oppressed.

Today, our ability to use the trade union to defend our quality of life is quickly being reduced to next to nothing. To put it bluntly – trade union leaders are playing the ass!

In the midst of this game-changing crisis many labour leaders are indistinguishable from the employers. The employers are on the warpath in their mission to destroy the trade union movement and trade union leaders seem hell bent on assisting them.

Trade union leaders have no respect for their members; member participation in the affairs of the unions is at an all time low. The institutions of the unions are not functioning in the way they should, leaving union executives to do whatever they want. Union branches and sections, which are the foundation of the unions, have all but disappeared.

Trade union leaders seem more interested in sucking up to the very political parties that represent the interests of the employers and that take the lead in exploiting and retrenching workers and destroying our quality of life.

Trade union leaders seem more interested in attacking one another than in defending the interests of the working class. They see the employers as partners and fellow trade unionists as competitors.

One trade union leader recently collaborated with a company to deny workers severance pay and instead to pay them an ex gratia payment, which of course is subject to tax. The union agreed that it would “refrain from commencing any legal claims or demands against the company relating directly or indirectly to the cessation of the company’s operations and to release and discharge the company from any liability in relation to any such (actual or potential) legal claims or demands.”

Many masquerade as trade union leaders when, in fact, they are businessmen who utilise union resources to build up personal fortunes through engaging in supplying labour and even try to defend exploitative practices when their employees file grievances against them.

Image result for ANIMAL FARMMany trade union leaders have no interest in organising the unorganised workers of this country who make up the vast majority of the working class. Even though the law makes provision for it, many have stopped even offering representation to workers who are not part of a recognised majority union bargaining unit. If the trade unions will not speak for these workers who will?

There are many issues that workers need to grapple with through their unions, but it makes no sense calling on union leaderships to tackle issues like Retrenchment, growing incidence of contract labour, the flouting of minimum wage laws, the discrimination against domestic workers, the struggle for an expeditious recognition process, negotiations two and three rounds behind etc., etc. They are just not capable.

The present leadership are more concerned with who going Geneva and how they could play the political game for self advancement.

As the austerity programme bites deeper and deeper the trade unions will have to rise to the occasion or be made redundant. Under the present leadership it will be made redundant. Mass participation in the unions’ business is the way to go. The union’s business is not the business of the President or the executive or the people at headquarters. The union’s business is the members’ business!

For the trade unions to carry out their mission of protecting, defending and advancing the interests of the working class, the perspectives, policies and practices of the unions must be transformed. The present leaderships are not capable of leading that transformation...A word to the wise.

STAND UP AND FIGHT!


2019/06/19

RBC TELLS WORKERS VSEP, VERP OR RETRENCHMENT

posted 20 May 2019, 19:55 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 20 May 2019, 20:12 ]

Mario Als, Deputy President of the Banking Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU), issued the following statement on May 20th 2019.

STOP MASS RETRENCHMENT AT RBC NOW!!

Mario Als
Once again, the Royal Bank of Canada is engaging in the mass termination of employment of workers. We have been advised that the Bank has issued an ultimatum to eligible workers in Service Delivery to apply for their Voluntary Separation of Employment Package or Voluntary Early Retirement Package, if age 50 and over. The Bank has made it clear to all that “if the voluntary programmes do not attract the anticipated employee participation, RBC may undertake an involuntary programme to achieve our productivity objectives, consistent with local legal requirements and provisions.”

In other words, the Bank is saying to the workers that it is either they leave willingly or they will be thrown out on the breadline. Either way, workers or their families once again are being sacrificed by this foreign investor so that it could maximise its profits.

Already, we have seen that since the Union applied for recognition in 2011 the number of Workers in the Bargaining Unit then was l,999. By ZOI7, the number of workers was cut down to 1360. Over the past eight (8) years, over 700 workers and their families were sacrificed on the altar of profits.

lt must also be recalled that this bank fought and continues to fight against the Recognition of our Union so that its workers would not have a Trade Union to represent them. To make matters worse, because of the reduced workforce and the closure of several branches, the remaining workers have been put under tremendous stress to cope with the workload.

This exploitation of workers is no different to how customers reacted to the increase of fees and introduction of new charges for on-line transactions and paper statements for two (2) consecutive years in a row.

Given the fact that the Prime Minister has already admitted that since 2015 to now, some 20,000 workers have lost their jobs and more are slated to go, our Union calls on the Minister of Labour to intervene at RBC and stop the continued retrenchment orgy. The working people of this country have already been over traumatised with the sending home of thousands of Petrotrin and TSTT workers. This has to stop! The workers must not be made to pay for capitalist greed.

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