Min­is­ter apologises for “im­po­tent” re­marks against FITUG, GTUC

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Min­is­ter

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.

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