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Media Releases

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

ttuta release june 2nd 2020

posted 3 Jun 2020, 19:23 by Gerry Kangalee


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.

BIGWU Responds to Allegations of Representation in Sexual Harassment Case

posted 30 Apr 2019, 10:42 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 30 Apr 2019, 10:43 ]


Image result for bigwu logo
The Banking Insurance and General Workers Union wishes to publicly record its strongest protest against the utterly wicked unjustified attack launched against our Union in particular and Trade Unions in general in an article in the Sunday Guardian on 21st April, 2019 (Page B14). 

The central theme of the article article “Nusrat and us” was the constant attack on trade unions as being archaic and irresponsible, including on the subject of sexual and other forms of workplace harassment, completely ignoring that it is the trade union movement that has led and continues to lead the fight against same. 

The article stated inter-alia: “For instance, in the case mentioned by Ms Thompson-Ahye, the banking union BIGWU challenged the firing of a man found guilty of sexual harassment by arguing it was a harsh decision by Republic Bank… If they continue to behave like BIGWU did in the Republic Bank case, they risk siding with the perpetrators at the expense of the victims. Just imagine for a moment how the women involved in the Republic Bank case felt when their own union openly argued in court that the perpetrator, not them, was the one treated harshly because he was fired. In today’s world, no union can be forgiven for defending that line.”

Firstly, we want to state emphatically that all accused workers are entitled to due process and are also entitled to appeal against the severity of their sentence. We must emphasise the Union's representative role to ensure that good and proper Industrial Relations is observed even where the Union may agree that the evidence supports that a worker is guilty of an infraction.

It is appalling to note that the writer makes reference to a case that is more than two decades old and then proceeds to infer that the positions held in that case is the positions of all Unions today.

For the record it should be stated that the 1996 case referred to was the then Bank Employees Union (BEU) vs Republic Bank. BIGWU was not the Union involved. BIGWU WAS NOT EVEN FORMED THEN. The name of the Union that represented the worker was Bank Employees Union (BEU) which was one of the heritage Unions of the now Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU).

BEU was fulfilling its mandate and oath of representation to a dismissed worker and nowhere in its representation was there a “defence” of the worker’s actions where the allegations were proven. Instead the position of the Union was that even if there was wrongdoing, given his length of service and seniority the Bank should have taken this into account in the application of a penalty. 

In other words, if he was guilty, a penalty other than dismissal should have been applied. Every worker has the right to be heard in mitigation as was the case of Cain in the Bible.

It is unfortunate that both the writer and Senator Hazel Thompson-Ahye have to paint Unions as implicitly defending the perpetrators of sexual harassment when this is far removed from the reality of what really happens.

In fact, this Union is currently representing a worker against her employer for allegedly dismissing her under the guise of restructuring because she reported her supervisor for sexually harassing her.

It is little wonder that no mention is made of this case. No mention is also made of the number of Collective Agreements where our Union and others have ensured that there are clauses to deal with sexual harassment. All of this is because the intention of the article was to demean and diminish the Union by presenting the RBL case as one in which the Union sought to support an act of workplace harassment rather than to fulfil its representative role.

While the writer makes reference to Unions, little or no mention is made of high priced Attorneys (some of them senior counsel) who defend Executive management officials like Rolph Balgobin in the recent Angostura matter. Where was the Chamber of Commerce and the ECA then? Did they openly voice their concerns?

It should be noted that in that matter the SWWTU, supported by several other Unions, led several picket demonstrations to get the company to act against sexual harassment.

We also note with serious concern the statement attributed to Ms. Sabina Gomez, the Chief Labour Relations Officer at the Ministry of Labour which was carried in the Trinidad Guardian on 12th April, 2019 as she outlined aspects of the Labour Ministry’s policy on sexual harassment before a Parliamentary Oversight Committee. The newspaper report stated inter-alia:

“Gomez said work­ers cur­rent­ly don't need a union to rep­re­sent them and could ap­proach the Min­istry. They are ad­vised to write the em­ploy­er about the is­sue and the Min­istry would fol­low up.”

Not having heard any rebuttal of this statement, we are left to strongly denounce any such approach as advocated. We state without hesitation that sexual harassment is a workplace issue. Workers formed trade unions to represent them and we openly call on workers who need representation on these and other issues to join a union to represent them in such matters.

Finally, it would be remiss of us if we did not point out that this latest attack against our Union in particular and the Trade union movement in general in the column titled “INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS” is part and parcel of the vicious assault launched by the 1% against non-unionised and unionised workers and their trade unions. We call on all working people to reject their weekly Sunday verbal garbage and close ranks against them.

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