Minister apologises for “impotent” remarks against FITUG, GTUC
with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott has expressed regret for his statement made about the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), and the Guyana Trades Union Congress ( GTUC) during the debate on the estimates for the 2017 National Budget on December 20 in the National Assembly.
Minister Scott said, “I made the mistake, that statement is regrettable, I’m solely responsible for the statement being made. I take full responsibility for saying so, and it takes nothing out of me to say to FITUG, GTUC, media and to the citizens of Guyana, that I’m sorry.”
Scott made his apology at a press conference today, in the presence of Chief Labour Officer, Charles Ogle, GTUC’s General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis and other members of FITUG and GTUC.
FITUG and GTUC had called out the Government over remarks made by Minister Scott when he classified both bodies as being ‘virtually impotent’.
Scott made those assertions after being grilled by Opposition Members of Parliament over his justification for allocating $24M to the little known ‘umbrella body’ Guyana National Cooperative Union Limited ( GNCUL), while FITUG and GTUC were only allocated $500,000 each.
Both Unions in a joint letter to Minister Scott said that his remarks were ‘distasteful and disturbing’ taking into consideration the importance of the labour movement and by extension workers of Guyana and were calling on the Minister to clarify/apologise, provided that his comments were not reflective of the Government’s position on the Trade Unions.
The joint letter to the Minister reads:
We noted, with alarm, various media reports about, what we strongly view as a most distasteful and disturbing remark, about our organisations – the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) – during the deliberations of the Committee of Supply in the Parliament on December 20, 2016.
This most incredulous labeling by you of our organisations as “impotent” begs the question whether this is the level of regard that the Government has for the labour movement and by extension the workers of Guyana.
As Minister, it is hoped it has not escaped atten- tion that workers represent a most decisive force in our country. We wonder, whether your remark, as a representative of the Government, inadvertently conveys a clandestinely held view of the Administration with respect to the trade union movement.
The distasteful comment further opens speculation as to whether your utterance –which is clearly contemptuous of a major stakeholder in this society with a constitutional right to exist – has informed your Administration’s decision to dismantle the Ministry of Labour, which is relegated to a department, headed by you.
We are disturbed by the continuous frontal attack on workers in view of their value to this nation’s development. For clearly a message is being sent by you, and it is hoped not representative of the Government, that there exists no regard for the workers of his country.
We call for clarification or an unequivocal apology if your utterance is not that of the Government’s position of the workers we represent, and where it may be important to remind you they pay your salary from their toil and sweat, and in many instances, are left with what is not adequate.