Issuu on Google+

Issue#:2 Volume#: 33

Combat

Fifty-Six workers complete one-week Trade Union Course

Voice of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU)

March/April, 2012

Another failed sugar crop looming

- production at 55% of target actual tonnes-cane per-tonne-sugar ratio is just over 13 tonnes as at the end of the third week in April this year.

Students in the classroom during one of the lectures

Fifty-six (56) workers from the various sugar estates, where the bulk of the membership of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) are employed, completed two (2) one-week Trade Union courses at the GAWU Labour College from March 19 – 23, 2012 and April 16-20, 2012, attracting an attendance of twenty-five (25) and thirty-one (31) participants respectively. The course covered topics such as Collective Labour Agreement, certain labour legislation, the challenges faced by the sugar industry, benefits of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), the rules of the Ministry of Labour on labour issues, History of Guyana, political structure and economic structure of Guyana, Class division of Society, Capitalism and the Current Global crisis, Globalization and the need for a New Global Human Order, and Understanding the operation of Companies, a short history of GAWU and the organizational structure of the Union.

The Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (Guysuco) ,at the end of the third week of April, 2012, has managed to produce only 56,077 tonnes of sugar, or 55 per cent of the targeted 101,813 tonnes sugar production this crop, although the industry’s seven (7) factories have already operated for 8 of 10 targeted weeks.

With reference to labour legislation, participants were taught about the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Prevention of Discrimination Act, which were incorporated in the recently published manual prepared by GAWU/NAACIE/GMB Educational project funded by the British Trade Union Congress.

A source disclosed to the Union that sugar production this crop will be far from the targeted production. According to the source, the industry has canes to produce just about 86,000 tonnes of sugar. The source also informed that, should the May/June rains not provide Guysuco with an excuse for not being able to reap out the crop, the Corporation would stand exposed, as it has once again failed significantly in its crop’s production, as was the case for the past fourteen (14) crops (2005 to 2011).

The thrust of GAWU’s educational work is to provide the essential tools and knowledge to workers to be more effective in their Trade Union representational work, especially the shop stewards. Through greater consciousness, a better workers’ outlook is developed.

Poor-yielding canes in some fields of the Corporation’s cultivation, which are clustered with bushes and grass, are part of the reasons for the tonnes-cane-per-tonne sugar ratio rising to unacceptable levels. The Corporation budgeted to utilize 11 tonnes of cane to produce a tonne of sugar during the current crop; however, the

COMBAT: March/April, 2012

The Government, mindful of the industry, announced in the 2012 Budget Address by the Minister of Finance, on March 30, 2012, that it would inject G$4B (US$20M) into the sugar corporation towards funding crucial capital works across the sugar industry. In the recent Budget presentation, the Minister said, “I now wish to announce that Budget 2012 provides for a transfer of $4 billion from the Central Government to GUYSUCO, in order to ensure that the sugar industry is financially able to meet its operating and investment requirements. The production and financial turnaround that is expected to be aided with this support from Government, and other initiatives taken by the industry, will ultimately redound to the benefit of the industry’s 18,000 workers and their families, along with the industry’s suppliers of goods and services, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 120,000 persons.” Indeed, the industry continues to play no small role in feeding, housing and clothing a sizeable proportion of the Guyanese population. Its multifaceted role in the country’s economy touches every citizen. Through sugar, the economy secures a sizeable part of the country’s foreign exchange. The Corporation remains the nation’s largest employer. It provides billions of dollars to employees in remuneration, and to suppliers of goods and services to the industry. tThe lloss of such huge sums of money, the bulk of which is circulated in the economy ,would be a disaster to the nation and the economy if the industry keeps underperforming. Page One


GAWU 20th Congress slated for August (600)-odd delegates, representing the large and diverse membership of the Union’s fourteen (14) bargaining units, will contribute to the w i d e - ra n g i n g discussions at the Union’s forthcoming Congress. Delegates will have the opportunity to comment Delegates and observers at the Business Session of the last Congress and review the Report of the Preparatory work is underway towards General Council, which highlights the the convening of the 20th Delegates’ Congress of the Guyana Agricultural and Union’s major activities and work over General Workers Union (GAWU). The the three (3)-year period since the 19th Opening Session is scheduled to take Delegates’ Congress. Delegates would be encouraged to take place at the Guyana International Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Greater the opportunity to identify issues the Georgetown on August 25, 2012, while Union should address and the Report the Business Sessions will take place on of the General Council will also set out August 27 and 28, 2012 at the Bath Pri- tasks for the Union and its members during the next triennium. mary School, West Coast Berbice. Next August will be three (3) years since Last, but not least, a new General Counthe Union held its last triennial Congress cil consisting of fifty-four (54) members, tasked with the governance of the Union in 2009, Congress is “the highest decision-mak- between Congresses, would be elected ing forum” of the Union. Six hundred by delegates

Major repairs for Skeldon Sugar Factory

The Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) recently announced that it would complete, in collaboration with Tate and Lyle, before the commencement of the second crop in late July, 2012, design and corrective works to the new Skeldon Factory. The works are being financed through an advance of US$6M (G$1.2B) from Tate and Lyle and its parent company, American Sugar Refinery, for sugar to be exposed this year to the Tate and Lyle Refinery in London.

Guysuco’s announcement, which was corroborated by senior Minister of Agriculture, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, assured that the following works would be undertaken:1. Redesign and reinstalling of the outboard punt dumper 2. Redesign and modification of the bagasse reclaim system to allow bagasse to be fed back to the boilers in a more efficient manner COMBAT: March/April, 2012

3. Redesign and corrective work on the cane conveying system 4. Construction of a bore hole (well) for cleaner water supply to the factory 5. Installation of a condenser tank 6. Rotation of the shredder by 180 degrees 7. Replacement of the 5-megawatt Warstila alternator The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), concerned about the heavy financial losses in processing operations at the defective Skeldon Sugar Factory, had called on Guysuco to close the factory and remedy the defects. The Corporation had been very livid to the Union’s call, and continued to operate the defective factory at great financial cost. It is hoped that indeed the crucial defects would be remedied, and from the second crop of this year, the factory’s performance would be in keep with its original design.

GAWU completes 2011 audit The Audit Office has completed the auditing of the accounts of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) for the year ended December 31, 2011, in keeping with the Trade Union Act, which requires each Trade Union to have its financial statements audited by the Audit Office of Guyana. The Auditor General concluded his report with the following statement: “In my opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the state of the affairs of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) as at 31st December, 2011; and the results of its operations for the year ended are in conformity with the generally accepted accounting princi-

ples.” Also, in keeping with the Trade Union Act, unions are required to to submit before May 01, 2012, Annual Returns to the Registrar of Trade Unions, comprising a copy of the Audit Report, a gender and age breakdown of the Union’s Membership, and the names and addresses of the Union’s Trustees and its Central Executive members. Having received the Audited Financial Statments, GAWU would be in a position to satisfy the deadline. GAWU is most pleased, just less than four (4) months in this year (2012), to have satisfied the statutory requirement in having its financial statements audited for last year (2011).

Kowsilla remembered

Attendees at the Wreath Laying activity

The yearly homage by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) to Kowsilla since her demise forty-eight (48) years ago was observed on March 06, 2012. This year’s commemoration took place, as in the past years, at the Anna Catherina Cemetery, West Coast Demerara, where she was interred. There was an attendance of about 60 attendees, comprising union leaders, politicians, workers and relatives of Kowsilla at the early morning activity. Wreaths were laid on Kowsilla’s tomb by some of those present . Some GAWU branches in Demerara, namely:- BEV Processors, Noble House Seafoods, Wales and Uitvlugt laid wreaths. Other fraternal organizations also laid wreaths and offered tributes in Kowsilla’s memory. Tributes were paid by the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Cde Ganga Persaud, who represented the People’s Progressive Party (PPP); GAWU’s President, Cde Komal Chand; Cde Walter Raghoo, GAWU Field Secretary of Uitvlugt Estate; Cde Chandrowtie Sarran of the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO); and Cde Jermaine Adams, the Branch Chairman of

the BEV Processors. The proceedings were chaired by the Union’s General Secretary, Cde Seepaul Narine. Kowsilla, a humble housewife and active WPO member, was crushed by a scab-driven tractor while she was supporting a protest exercise on March 06, 1964 outside the gate of the Leonora Sugar Factory. She was supporting hundreds of mainly field sugar workers who were denied work because they had in previous days supported a political protest across the country in the form of a march objecting to the imposition of the system of Proportional Representation (PR). The Colonial Office in London decided to replace the FirstPast-The-Post system in electing representatives to the National Assembly with the PR system. The strike and protest by the workers on the Estate was also for the recognition of GAWU in the place of the Man Power Citizen’s Association (MPCA), which the workers no longer wanted as their representative union. Kowsilla died some hours after her body was ridden over by the tractor. In the incident, fourteen (14) other workers were injured. GAWU salutes the courage and sacrifice displayed by Kowsilla, which strengthened then the continuing struggles for GAWU’s recognition as the Union to represent the field and factory workers in the sugar industry. in February, 1976, after almost three (3) decades of struggle, GAWU at last became recognised in the place of the MPCA. Page Two


Denial of NIS benefits to workers sparks strike at Blairmont Estate Workers from the Factory, the Mill Dock, the Mechanical Tillage and the Field Workshop of Blairmont Estate proceeded on strike action on April 16, 2012. Their strike was in solidarity with two of their colleagues, Nipaul Omrow and Nazeer Hussain, who suffered injuries on March 05 and 09, 2012 respectively, and were both denied Industrial Payment Benefit by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). In a press statement, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) pointed out that the NIS was in breach of Section 17(1)C of the National Insurance and Social Security Act, Chapter 36:01, Laws of Guyana, which states that:“Regulations may provide for treating, for the purposes of any right to benefit, contributions payable by an Employer

on behalf of an Insured Person, but not paid as paid, where the failure to pay is shown not to have been with the consent or connivance of, or attributable to any negligence on the part of such person.”

The workers called off the strike following a decision by Guysuco to advance to the affected workers monies which the NIS ought to have paid them. The NIS, it is understood, is now processing the benefits, clearing the way for Cdes Omrow and Hussian to be paid.

A dance item being performed by students of Guysuco Port Mourant Training Centre at the Albion Commemoration Activity on March 18, 2012

COMBAT: March/April, 2012

- six thousand-odd workers to benefit

In keeping with the Act, the Union demanded that the workers be paid immediately. An NIS source revealed that payments were not made to the two (2) workers because the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) was in arrears with contribution remittances.

Remembering Dr Cheddi Jagan

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), in commemorating the birth, life and work of Dr Cheddi Jagan, the Union’s former Honorary President and Executive President of Guyana from 1992 to 1997, organized cultural activities and short addresses at two (2) activities, namely at Bath Primary School on March 14, 2012 and at Albion Sports Complex on March 18, 2012. There were appreciable attendances at the two activities. The cultural activities were conducted by ordinary members of

GAWU/Guysuco settle on Job Evaluation

the communities surrounding the venue of the activities. Dr Jagan devoted much of his work and energy to assist GAWU to become the bargaining agent of the field and factory workers of the sugar industry. it was a long and hard struggle waged for almost three (3) decades for the expatriate sugar planters to agree to a poll, which GAWU won overwhelmingly and convincingly on December 31, 1975.

The Union’s delegation comprising representatives from the various Estates at the talks

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (Guysuco), on April 26, 2012, appended an Agreement paving the way for the implementation of the Report of the Job Evaluation Committee for the six thousand-odd (6,000) time-rated workers who are being represented by the Union. The two (2) parties agreed that the new pay rates, as stipulated in the new wage bands, would be implemented from April 29, 2012 in the case of the hourly, daily and weekly-paid employees, and from May 01, 2012 in the case of the monthly-paid employees. The Union and the Corporation also agreed that workers would receive an additional two (2) per cent as a service payment for each year of past service in their current job, up to a maximum of ten (10) years, to be determined on the minimum rate of their new bands. With respect to the retroactive payments, the Union and the Corporation agreed that the payment would be from July 01, 2011. The Union had previously requested the retroactive payments to take place from January 01, 2011, and later April 01, 2011, as a further compromise. However, the Corporation insisted that it could not commit itself to pay earlier than July 01, 2011. The Union, through those shop stewards who are members of the negotiating team and the estates’ Field Secretaries consulted

the workers, who generally approved of the Union accepting the retroactive payment from July 01, 2011. The decision by the Union to accept the retroactive payments to July 01, 2012 was influenced by the Corporation’s decision to free the workers from the taxable deductions from July 01 to December 31, 2011. The workers would receive their retroactive payments in installments. For the period July 01 to December 31, 2011, payments would be made on July 27, 2012. The second payment, covering the period January 01 to February 29, 2012, would be paid on November 30, 2012, and the third would be paid on April 26, 2013, covering the period March 01 to April 28, 2012. Guysuco, struggling to produce greater quantity of sugar, contended at the Union/Corporation meeting that its extremely poor financial background served as a constraint paying the retroactive payments from July 01, 2011 to April 28, 2012 at one time. One hundred and seventy-three (173) jobs occupied by six thousand two hundred and fourteen (6,214) employees were evaluated. The Evaluation Committee, which had comprised representatives from the Union and the Corporation, completed its work last December. Seven new bands or scales allowing for higher rates of pay at the minima and maxima levels of the new scales were approved by the Committee. Page Three


INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL

NGOs: The Missionaries of the Empire By Devon DB Non-governmental organizations are an increasingly important part of the 21st century international landscape, performing a variety of humanitarian tasks pertaining, inter alia, to issues of poverty, the environment and civil liberties.However, there is a dark side to NGOs. They have been and are currently being used as tools of foreign policy, specifically with the United States. Instead of using purely military force, the US has now moved to using NGOs as tools in its foreign policy implementation, specifically the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and Amnesty International. National Endowment for Democracy According to its website, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is “a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world”. However, this sweet sounding description is actually quite far from the truth. The history of the NED begins immediately after the Reagan administration. Due to the massive revelations concerning the CIA in the 1970s, specifically that they were involved in attempted assassinations of heads of state, the destabilization of foreign governments, and were illegally spying on the US citizens, this tarnished the image of the CIA and of the US government as a whole. While there were many committees that were created during this time to investigate the CIA, the Church Committee (led by Frank Church, a Democrat from Idaho) was of critical importance, as its findings “demonstrated the need for perpetual surveillance of the intelligence community, and resulted in the creation of the permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.” The Select Committee on Intelligence’s purpose was to oversee federal intelligence activities; and while oversight and stability came in, it seemed to signal that the CIA’s ‘party’ of assassination plots and coups were over. Yet, this was to continue, but in a new way: under the guise of a harmless NGO whose purpose was to promote democracy around the world:- the National Endowment for Democracy. The NED was meant to be a tool of US foreign policy from its outset. It was the brainchild of Allen Weinstein who, before creating the Endowment, was a professor at Brown and Georgetown Universities, had served on the Washington Post’s editorial staff, and was the Executive Editor of The Washington Quarterly, Georgetown’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, a right-wing neoconservative think tank which would in the future have ties to imperial strategists such as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. He stated in a 1991 interview that “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” The first director of the Endowment, Carl Gershman, outright admitted that the Endowment was a front for the CIA. In 1986 he stated: “We should not have to do this kind of work covertly. It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that COMBAT: March/April, 2012

in the ‘60s, and that’s why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that’s why the endowment was created. “ It can be further observed that the Endowment is a tool of the US government as ever since its founding in 1983, it “has received an annual appropriation approved by the United States Congress as part of the United States Information Agency budget.” No sooner than the Endowment was founded did it begin funding groups that would support US interests. From 1983 to 1984, the Endowment was active in France and “supported a ‘trade union-like organization that for professors and students’ to counter ‘left-wing organizations of professors,’” [7] through the funding of seminars, posters, books, and pamphlets that encouraged opposition to leftist thought. In the midand late 1990s, the NED continued its fight against organized labour by giving in excess of $2.5 million to the American Institute of Free Labour Development, which was a CIA front used to undermine progressive labour unions. Later on, the Endowment became involved in interfering with elections in Venezuela and Haiti, in order to undermine leftwing movements there. The NED is, and continues to be, a source of instability in nations across the globe that don’t kneel before US imperial might. Yet, the Endowment funds another pseudo-NGO: Freedom House. Freedom House Freedom House was originally founded in 1941 as a pro-democracy and pro-human rights organization. While this may have been true in the past, in the present day, Freedom House is quite involved in pushing US interests in global politics and its leaders have connections to rather unsavoury organizations, such as current Executive Director David Kramer being a Senior Fellow to the Project for the New American Century, many of whose members are responsible for the current warmongering status of the US. During the Bush administration, the President used Freedom House to support the so-called War on Terror. In a March 29, 2006 speech, President Bush stated that Freedom House “declared the year 2005 was one of the most successful years for freedom since the Freedom House began measuring world freedom more than 30 years ago”, and that the US should not rest “until the promise of liberty reaches every people and every nation” because, “In this new century, the advance of freedom is a vital element of our strategy to protect the American people, and to secure the peace for generations to come.” Later, it was revealed that Freedom House became more and more supportive of the Bush administration’s policies because of the funding it was getting from the US government. According to its own internal report, in 2007, the US government was providing some 66% of funding for the organization. [10] This funding mainly came from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US State Department, and the Na-

tional Endowment for Democracy. Thus we see not only the political connection of Freedom House to US government, but major financial connections as well. It should be noted, however, that Freedom House was not alone in supporting the government. Under the Bush administration, the US government forced NGOs to become more compliant to their demands. In 2003, USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios stated in a speech given at a conference of NGOs that in Afghanistan the relationship between NGOs and USAID does affect the survival of the Karzai regime, and that Afghans “believe [their life] is improving through mechanisms that have nothing to do with the U.S. government and nothing to do with the central government. That is a very serious problem.” On the situation in Iraq, Natsios stated that when it comes to NGO work in the country, “proving results counts, but showing a connection between those results and U.S. policy counts as well.” NGOs were essentially told that they were tools of the US government and were being made part of the imperial apparatus. Most recently, Freedom House was active in the Arab Spring, where they aided in the training and financing of civil society groups and individuals “including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen.” While the Endowment and Freedom House are being used as tools of US foreign policy, that does not mean that the US government isn’t looking for new tools, namely Amnesty International. Amnesty International The human rights organization Amnesty International is the newest tool in the imperial toolbox of the American Empire. In January 2012, Suzanne Nossel was appointed the new Executive Director of Amnesty International by the group itself. Before coming to Amnesty, Nossel already had deep connections to the US government, as she had “served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations at the U.S. Department of State.” Nossel is known for coining the term ‘smart power’ which she defined as knowing that “US interests are furthered by enlisting oth-

ers on behalf of U.S. goals, through alliances, international institutions, careful diplomacy, and the power of ideals.” While this definition may seem harmless, ‘smart power’ seems to be an enhanced version of Joseph Nye’s ‘soft power,’ which itself is defined as “the ability to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction rather than using the carrots and sticks of payment or coercion.” A possible example of this ‘smart power’ is the war in Libya, where the US used the UN as a means to get permission to engage in ‘humanitarian intervention.’ Yet, even before Nossel was appointed to Amnesty, the group was unwittingly aiding in the media war against Syria. In a September 1, 2011 Democracy Now interview, Neil Sammonds, the researcher and one of the authors for Amnesty’s report, Deadly Detention: Deaths in Custody Amid Popular Protest in Syria, spoke about the manner in which the research was done for the report. He stated: I’ve not been into Syria. Amnesty International has not been allowed into the country during these events, although we have requested it. So the research for this report was done mostly from London, but also from some work in neighbouring countries and through communications with a large network of contacts and relatives of the families, and, you know, other sources. How can one write a report with any amount of authority if one’s only sources are through second-hand sources that may or may not have a bias or an agenda to push? How can you write a report using sources whose information has no way of being verified? It is reminiscent of the media war against Gaddafi, where it was reported in the mainstream media that he was bombing his own people and had given Viagra to his soldiers so they could rape women, but absolutely none of this was verified. While NGOs can have a positive influence on society at large, one must be aware of their backgrounds, who is in charge of them, and from whom they are getting funding, because the nature of the NGO is changing, it is being more and more integrated into the imperial apparatus of domination and exploitation. NGOs are fast becoming the missionaries of empire.

Extreme Poverty in the US has doublted in the last 15 years

By Pat Garafalo According to the latest Census Bureau data, nearly 50 percent of Americans are either low-income or living in poverty in the wake of the Great Recession. And a new study from the National Poverty Center shows just how deep in poverty some of those people are, finding that the number of households living on less than $2 per day (before government benefits) has more than doubled in the last 15 years. The number of U.S. households living on less than $2 per person per day — which the study terms “extreme poverty” — more than doubled between 1996 and 2011, from

636,000 to 1.46 million, the study finds. The number of children in extremely poor households also doubled, from 1.4 million to 2.8 million. While extreme poverty doubled overall, it tripled amongst female-headed households. Of course, there’s always the tact taken by North Carolina Republican State Representative George Cleveland last week, who simply denied that anyone in his state lives in extreme poverty. As we noted at the time, “the 728,842 North Carolinians who are classified as living in deep poverty might take issue with that assessment.” Page Four


INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL

Is the ‘Green Economy’ a New Washington Consensus By Working Group on Green Economy, World Social Forum The current environmental and climate crisis is not simply a market failure because nature is not simply a form of capital. Putting a price on nature under the label of the ‘Green Economy’ is an attempt to expand the reach of finance capital and privatize our planet. Today we are facing great risks – even a civilization crisis – manifest in many dimensions and exacerbated by unprecedented inequalities. Systems and institutions that sustain life and societies – such as food and energy production, climate and biodiversity, even economic and democratic institutions – are under attack or in a state of collapse. In the 1980s, faced with a crisis of profitability, capitalism launched a massive offensive against workers and peoples, seeking to increase profits by expanding markets and reducing costs through trade and financial liberalization, flexibilization of labour and privatization of the state sector. This massive structural adjustment became known as the Washington Consensus. New Sources of Profit Today, faced with an even more complex and deeper crisis, capitalism is launching a new attack that combines the old austerity measures of the Washington Consensus – as we are witnessing in Europe – with an offensive to create new sources of profit and growth through the ‘Green Economy’ agenda. Although capitalism has always been based on the exploitation of labour and nature, this new phase of capitalist expansion seeks to exploit and profit by giving a price value to the essential life-giving capacities of nature. The Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit of 1992 institutionalized important bases for international cooperation on sustainable development, such as polluter pays, common but differentiated responsibilities, and the precautionary principle. But Rio also institutionalized the concept of “sustainable development” based on “sustainable growth.” In 1992, the Rio Conventions acknowledged for the first time the rights of indigenous communities and their central contributions to the preservation of biodiversity. But, in the same documents, the industrialized countries and corporations received the guarantee that the seeds and genetic resources that they gained through centuries of colonial domination would be protected through intellectual property rights. Twenty years later, in 2012, the plunder continues. The ‘Green Economy’ agenda is an attempt to expand the reach of finance capital and integrate into the market all that remains of nature. The ‘Green Economy’ aims to do this by giving a “value” or a “price” to biomass, biodiversity and the functions of the ecosystems – such as storing carbon, pollinating crops, or filtering water – in order to integrate these “services” as tradeable units in the financial market. What and Who is Behind the Zero Draft? The zero draft outcome document for the Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development is called “The future we want.” At the heart of this short text is the section “The Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.” COMBAT: March/April, 2012

The ‘Green Economy’ is an ambitious global project that seeks to disassociate economic growth from environmental deterioration through a three-dimensional capitalism that includes physical capital, human capital, and natural capital (rivers, wetlands, forests, coral reefs, biological diversity and other elements). For the ‘Green Economy,’ the food crisis, the climate crisis and the energy crisis share a common characteristic: the failed allocation of capital. As a result, the ‘Green Economy’ treats nature as capital – “natural capital.” The ‘Green Economy’ considers it essential to put a price on the free services that plants, animals and ecosystems offer to humanity in order to “sustainably manage” biodiversity, water purification, pollination of plants, the protection of coral reefs and regulation of the climate. For the ‘Green Economy,’ it is necessary to identify the specific functions of ecosystems and biodiversity and assign them a monetary value, evaluate their current status, set a limit after which they will cease to provide services, and concretize in economic terms the cost of their conservation in order to develop a market for each particular environmental service. For the ‘Green Economy,’ the instruments of the market are powerful tools for managing the “economic invisibility of nature.” The zero draft – as with all the vicious attacks of capitalism – is full of generalities to hide the real intentions. Behind the zero draft is the 2011 UNEP report Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication that shows clearly the ultimate goal of achieving “green capitalism.” The main targets of the ‘Green Economy’ are the developing countries, where there is the richest biodiversity. The zero draft even acknowledges that a new round of “structural adjustments” will be necessary: “developing countries are facing great challenges in eradicating poverty and sustaining growth, and a transition to a green economy will require structural adjustments which may involve additional costs to their economies...” But the ‘Green Economy’ is not a fiction of the future: it is already here. As the zero draft states, “We support policy frameworks and market instruments that effectively slow, halt and reverse deforestation and forest degradation.” This is referring to REDD (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation), an initiative of the UNFCCC which consists of isolating and measuring the capacity of forests to capture and store carbon dioxide in order to issue certificates for greenhouse gas emissions reductions that can be commercialized and acquired by companies in developed countries that cannot meet their emission reduction commitments. We have already seen that the market for carbon credits based on forests will lead to: a) noncompliance with effective emission reduction commitments by developed countries; b) the bulk of resources being appropriated by intermediaries and financial entities and rarely benefitting countries, indigenous peoples and forests themselves; c) the generation of speculative bubbles based on the sale and purchase of said certificates; and d) the establishment of new property rights over the capacity of forests

to capture carbon dioxide, which will clash with the sovereign rights of states and the indigenous peoples that live in forests. Equitable Distribution The postulates promoted under the ‘Green Economy’ are wrong. The current environmental and climate crisis is not a simple market failure. The solution is not to put a price on nature. Nature is not a form of capital. It is wrong to say that we only value that which has a price, an owner, and brings profits. The market mechanisms that permit exchange among human beings and nations have proven incapable of contributing to an equitable distribution of wealth. The main challenge for the eradication of poverty is not to grow forever, but to achieve an equitable distribution of the wealth that is possible under the limits of the Earth system. In a world in

where one per cent of the population controls 50 per cent of the wealth of the planet, it will not be possible to eradicate poverty or restore harmony with nature. The ‘Green Economy’ agenda is a cynical and opportunistic manipulation of the ecological and social crises. Rather than addressing the real structural causes of inequality and injustices, capital is using “green” language to launch a new round of expansion. Corporations and the financial sector need governments to institutionalize the new rules of the ‘Green Economy’ to guarantee them against risks, and to create the institutional framework for the financialization of nature. Many governments are willing partners in this project, as they believe it will stimulate a new phase of growth and accumulation.

By Luis Hernández Navarro Gabriela Oviedo is a fashion model and TV personality. She is a 28-year-old brunette, almost six feet tall. Born in the Bolivian province of Santa Cruz, she was elected as the national beauty queen in 2003. In 2004, Gabriela took part in the Miss Universe pageant. There she was asked to name one of the biggest misconceptions about her country. In awkward English, she answered: “Um … unfortunately, people that don’t know Bolivia very much think that we are all just Indian people from the west side of the country. It’s La Paz, all the image that we reflect is that poor people and very short people and Indian people ... I’m from the other side of the country, the east side, and it’s not cold, it’s very hot and we are tall and we are white people and we know English.” Gabriela’s answer, heavy with racism, raised such a wave of outrage in her country that she was forced to give up the contest. Two in every three Bolivians are indigenous people. Her answer, however, was not an isolated occurrence. It reflects the persistence of a white, deeply anti-indigenous Bolivia, which survives today even though deep changes have been introduced, including the approval of anti-racist legislation. In spite of the force of racial discrimination, on 22 January 2006, the Aymara Indian and cocalero unionist Evo Morales was elected president. Since then, the Bolivian state and society have undergone a profound transformation. The country has been decolonised. Indigenous people hold key cabinet positions in government and also in political institutions, while their standard and quality of life have been notably improved. In the past six years, Bolivia has become one of the Latin American countries most successful at improving its citizens’ standard of living. Economic indicators such as low unemployment and decreased poverty, as well as better public healthcare and education, are outstanding. Between 2005 and 2010, the proportion of those in moderate poverty went down from 60% to 49.6%, while extreme poverty fell from 38% to 25%. Likewise, the unemployment rate decreased from 8.4% to 4%. The United Nations Development Programme

(UNDP) points out that Bolivia is the top country in Latin America in terms of transferring resources to its most vulnerable population – 2.5% of its GNP. According to Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, “Bolivia is one of the few countries that has reduced inequality … the gap between rich and poor has been hugely narrowed.” One of the key tools in reducing poverty has been the expansive distribution of economic surplus among the population, through direct cash transfers and bonds in programmes such as Juancito Pinto and Juana Azurduy, the Renta Dignidad, and salary increases. These payments have contributed to increasing the number of children attending school, broadening the coverage of public pensions to alleviate extreme poverty among senior citizens, and delivering subsidies to mothers excluded from social security, so as to reduce children’s mortality and expand pre- and post-natal attention. Bolivia has been declared an illiteracy-free country. Income redistribution has fuelled a 7% increase in the internal consumption of electricity, purified water and domestic gas among sectors that didn’t have access to those services before. During 2011, the country’s economy grew approxmiately 5.3%, above the Latin American average. It is not an isolated event. The economy has been constantly expanding since 2007, averaging 4.5% a year. These economic and social successes have been attained following an alternative route to neoliberalism. Evo Morales’s government did the opposite of what the Washington Consensus recommends: it nationalised hydrocarbons, electricity, telecommunications and mining; renegotiated the presence of direct foreign investment in the country; implemented an expansive fiscal policy, and closed borders to the free importation of economically strategic products. The state took 34% of the economy under its control. This exceptional performance was obtained even though remittances decreased, the United States revoked the most-favoured nation status for some Bolivian products. Continued on page six

Bolivia has transformed itself by ignoring the Washington Consensus

Page Five


FITUG in solidarity with the Palestinian People

FITUG’s delegation presenting the Statement to the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) in Georgetown On April 17, 2012, a delegation from the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) presented a statement in seperate exercises in support of the Palestinian people on the occasion of International Day of Action for the Palestinian people to the offices of the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) and later issued the following Press Statement We, the member-unions of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), have discussed a request from the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) to its affiliate in Guyana, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), and have agreed to support its initiative to mark April 17, 2012 as International Day of Action for the Palestinian people. This initiative, we note, is jointly undertaken by our brothers and sisters of the General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW). FITUG, on behalf of its 35,000 members, unreservedly rejects Israel’s inhuman treatment of the Palestinian people, and the unjust denial of their human and civil rights, essen-

tial to live out their humanity. We unequivocally support the establishment of an independent homeland for the Palestinian people. We recognise that the long-standing Palestinian problem is one of the reasons for the trouble that has today beset the world, and which has negatively impacted on the conscience of the overwhelming majority of the world’s peoples. The widespread support for the Palestinian cause, as reflected in scores of UN resolutions, as expressed by over one hundred -including Guyana - governments and by respected and reputable movements and individuals, is highly appreciated. At the same time, we hasten to forthrightly condemn the impudent flouting by successive Israeli government leaders of such supportive sentiments by a genuine international community. It is ironic that the Jewish people who, along with others, experienced untold sufferings and degrading atrocities at the hands of fascism during World War II, today is resorting to similar measures to perpetuate apartheid policies and colonial-type domination and occupation of the Palestinian

Meet your Branch Executives

The Union, in keeping with its Constitution, organised Branch Conferences at each Union Branch annually. At these Conferences, the work of the Branch during the preceding year is reviewed. The Conferences also elect new Branch Committees, which are charged with administering the affairs of the Branch for another year. Since our last edition, a number of such Conferences were completed, and we provide you with the composition of the newly elected Committees. Uitvlugt Estate Chairman: Deonandan, Vice Chairman: Lochan Sookram, Secretary: Awad Bhagwandin, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer: Janice Leander-Fowler and Committee Members: Totaram Rameshwar, Sandra Singh, Ganga Shivnauth, Satwantie Ramlall, Pitamdai Arjune, Kayum Mohamed, Rasheed Baksh, Alita Johnson, David Sammy, Colbert Cummings and Alvin Hussain Caricom Rice Mills Limited Chairman: Bernard Alfonso, Vice Chairman: Ronald DeFreitas, Secretary: Rajendra Surujpaul, Assistant Secretary: Jinelle Ramnarine and Committee Members: Kissoon Lall, Shondella Davis, Vernie McPherson, Deewanlall and Sham Narine Demerara Distillers Limited Chairman: Deochand Doodnauth, Vice Chairman: OmCOMBAT: March/April, 2012

raj Rajpat, Secretary: Tulsiram Harrichand, Assistant Secretary: George Roberts and Committee Members: Permanand Dolai, Imtiaz Bacchus, Neitce Raj, Gomattie Naipaul, Devanand Milton and Balkit Bhagan National Parks Commission Chairman: Grace Charles, Vice Chairman: Leslie James, Secretary: Veronica Newton, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer: Devanand Naitram and Committee Members: Rajendra Persaud, Desmond Glasgow, Dick Squires, Lennox Hutson and Sylvia Smith In our January/February, 2012 edition we published incorrectly the names of persons elected to the Albion Branch Committee. We apologise for this mistaken and republish the correct names of comrades elected to the Albion Branch Committee Albion Estate Chairman: Vimen Armogan, Vice Chairman: Hernie Parks, Secretary: Rickram Shrikishun, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer: Bevon Sinclair, Organising Secretary: Ganga Persaud Shivdyal and Committee Members: Mohamed Gafoor, Victor McKenzie, Vishnu Nandlall, Krishnadatt Ramlakhan, Krishnadatt Pooran, Deodat Doodnauth, Ingrid George, Nola Thomas, Cronston Dey, Vickram Sahadeo, Ravichan Singh, Leloetha Skeete and Debbie Semple

people and their land, as well as other neighbouring peoples’ lands. In this consideration, we cannot be oblivious to the prevalent view that Israel’s arrogance and anti-Palestinian practices are encouraged and emboldened by their military, economic and other support it receives from sections of the USA’s ruling elite and a few of its allies, driven, in turn, by self-interests. While statements and resolutions have their role in extending solidarity to the Palestinian people and their struggles, it has become clear that those must now be complemented by stronger actions. To this end, we see the importance of joint activities of similar-minded organisations locally, regionally and internationally. At this time, in marking April 17 as a Day of International Solidarity with Palestine, FITUG joins with the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), to which GAWU, is affiliated to demand:• The immediate release of all 4,600 political prisoners, among who are 220 children and 24 members of Parliament in Israeli prisons. In the process of preparing this statement, information has reached us that 1,600 of these prisoners have gone on a hunger strike, to which action FITUG extends solidarity; • Ceasing all settlement activity and the dismantling of the settlements; • The immediate lifting of the unfair and inhumane blockade of Gaza Strip; the withdrawal of the Israeli army from all occupied territories, there since 1967, including from the Golan Heights and the Shebaa area of southern Lebanon; • The demolition of the racist wall; • The creation of an independent, democratic and truly free Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital; and the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homeland; • That the international community undertakes its responsibilities and implement all decisions of the United Nations and the Security Council FITUG supports the Palestinian people in their just struggles.

Bolivia has transformed itself...

Continued from page five The oil income is now three times that of 2005. The tax revenues went up. The international currency reserves are up to more than $12bn dollars. The banking savings-and-loans system has been “Bolivian-ised” and the external debt has been reduced. The bid now is that Bolivia will take a “big industrial leap” in the next five years so that it ceases to be an extractor of natural resources and begins to export valueadded goods. However, the Bolivian story is not one of “progress”, but of forging an alternative economy, one which stems from the original peoples and nations. At the centre of its proposal is the Suma Qamaña, a notion that has been incorporated into the constitution and that is translated as “living well”, meaning to be in harmony and equilibrium with other people and with nature. It is a proposal born in the community, and it is based, not in the logic of economic profitability, but on producing goods according to nature. As Evo Morales has said: “We don’t believe in the linear, cumulative conception of progress and of an unlimited development at the cost of other people and of nature. To live well is to think not only in terms of per capita income, but of cultural identity, community, harmony among ourselves and with Mother Earth.” Raúl García Linera, one of Bolivia’s principal political strategists, describes the current process of transformation in his country as trying to change the engine of a car while it’s moving. It is, no doubt, a genuine, bold and encouraging attempt.

Page Six


FITUG concerned over political intrusion into sugar workers’ industrial issues The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), which includes the Region’s largest Bargaining Agent, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), feels that it is now appropriate and timely to direct attention to an unsettling development in Guyana’s industrial environment. The issue that concerns FITUG has to do with a political party’s overt attempts to undermine and discredit GAWU’s historic and current representation of the nation’s sugar workers. The political party evidently feels that the time is ripe to mislead the country’s hardworking sugar workers with bad, unsound, non-industrial advice; and in so doing, is sowing confusion and encouraging division of the industry’s workforce. This sort of political intrusion, FITUG feels, can only pose further threats to trade unionism in Guyana, is clearly intended to fulfill a political agenda, and, in the end, serve anti-working class objectives. Background grouses and reality FITUG has been briefed, but has also garnered from the media some components which are obviously biased, that the Alliance For Change (AFC) political party, in hastening to offer support to sugar workers engaged in workstoppages in several estates, has done so without having a full grasp, obviously, of the issues involved. In the sectors and at the locations it interfered with, the AFC leaders and activists stirred dissension within and between sections of the workforce, and somehow even managed to complicate a few issues that workers were peeved over. That placed additional strains and demands on the Union to address and resolve. It should be noted that in all of the issues which emerged in recent months in the industry, it was the Union that played the pivotal role in successfully representing them. Whilst FITUG is aware of an historic tradition in Guyana

Profile of a Stalwart:

and elsewhere, where politicians and trade unionists collaborate even to the extent of trade unionists entering the political arena and vice-versa, and though we also accept that sugar workers could very well, for various reasons, seek relief and representation from politicians, FITUG views the AFC’s motivation as stemming from political expediency, especially as the AFC activists pay no attention to trade union structure and grievance procedures. Instead, they incite and both subtly and overtly goad some GAWU members to think of some alternative union. Our affiliate, GAWU, has explained the various grievances raised, and the swift representations it has given and settlements reached. From addressing Guysuco’s lapses with workers’ NIS records and benefits, to issues of “days offered” per week and changes in the Corporation’s “Business Rules” to making all Saturdays “Premium Days” et cetera, GAWU has pointed to its established structure which has proven workable up to now, whereby the respective Estates’ Union Shop Stewards will first address complaints, as they are trained to do, before those unresolved ones are brought to the Union’s Executive for another stage of deliberations. The AFC’s modus operandi seemingly is to pounce upon an industrial issue, exploit the workers’ complaints, and get instant media publicity without bothering to seek any comments from the sugar union. FITUG can understand the impatience of the aggrieved workers being influenced by irresponsible persons and buying into ploys of unsound and fanciful promises. At the same time, FITUG frowns on those who resort to such tactics and techniques, which could have negative consequences to Trade Unionism as a whole. In championing and representing the many concerns and issues of workers in the sugar industry, several of which the GAWU has laid at the doorstep of Guysuco’s management practices, likewise other realities affecting the indus-

try should also be recognised. A responsible and militant Union as the GAWU has shown historically that it cannot be ostrich-like and hide from such stark realities whereby the industry’s revenue losses since 2006, when the European Union (EU) slashed the price of sugar amounts to some nine billion dollars (G$9B), or current employment costs being about sixty-three (63) per cent of Guysuco’s revenue, according to the last audited accounts (2010). These are some of the objective factors to be borne in mind as the Union continues its struggles to defend and promote its members’ interests. At this time, an intriguing question comes to the fore. Why the AFC’s focus on GAWU and its membership? The Union has a distinguished history of militancy ever since its formation by Dr Cheddi Jagan, its former Honorary President. If the AFC seeks to show concern for aggrieved and disgruntled workers, these can be found in several places and among many workers who are not even unionized. GAWU and its members being targeted by the AFC seems to be the latest attempt in a string of such attempts in the Union’s history. GAWU reminds FITUG of the several attempts to undermine, discredit and replace the union over the decades. Strangely, all of those were politically inspired. Sugar workers are both homogenous and militant, comprising a sizeable number of Guyana’s electorate. These could very well be factors that make workers of the sugar industry so attractive to political groups and overly ambitious politicians. An important part of that pursuit must, no doubt, be attempts to destroy their time-tested and genuine Trade Union organization. FITUG, therefore, advises GAWU and its members to be on guard, mischief is afoot Workers should bear in mind Cheddi Jagan’s exhortation that “In GAWU and in Unity, there is strength”.

Meet Persutam Takhoor Persaud aka Nan In this edition of Combat, we profile former shop steward Cde Persutam Persaud Takhoor Persaud, popularly known as Nan, who served the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) at Blairmont Estate for fortyfour (44) years. Nan, a father of three (3) children, was born on October 13, 1950. He attended Blairmont Primary School, and at age 16 in 1966, he began to work in the estate’s creole gang as a fertilizer-hand. Ten (10) years later, he joined one of the cane-cutting gangs. In 1993, he was transferred to the planting gang until he reached pensionable age in 2004. Since his retirement, Nan said, he is tending to COMBAT: March/April, 2012

his small garden which is located in his backyard, where he grows eschallot and celery, the sale of which assists him to complement his meagre estate’s pension, his Government Old Age Pension and his National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pension. Reflecting on Guysuco’s poor performance through the low sugar production for the past seven (7) years, Nan said that the Corporation ceased resting portions of cane fields, known as flood fallowing, every year in each estate for periods of six (6) to twelve (12) months under water, which completely kills all weeds and serves to rejuvenate the soil. Such practice resulted in fairly high cane yields when the land is placed under cultivation. Flood fallowing ought to take place every five (5) to six (6) years. He advised that poor yields, as in the case of some fields, do not encourage cane cutters in the industry, since they do not manage to reap the average area of cane to yield the expected weight to earn a normal day’s pay. The Corporation, he said, must resort to the agricultural practices which were conducted when the industry’s production had reached around 330,000

tonnes of sugar. He recollected that when the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) gained recognition in February, 1976, he soon after became a shop steward. In the years of GAWU’s recognition struggle, he was an active participant and thus was very known among his fellow workers. He spared no time to recollect that he was reelected a shop steward at the yearly gang elections until he retired. Nan credits GAWU for imparting to him valuable knowledge through its organized seminars and meetings. He feels that such activities have helped to mould him into becoming a better person. He also commends GAWU for its patience, firmness and tireless role in securing better wages and working conditions for workers in the sugar belt. In recognition of Nan’s valuable and dedicated services to the Union, he was appropriately honoured by GAWU at the Union’s 17th Delegates’ Congress in August, 2003. Page Seven


The 2012 Budget at a glance: What’s in it for us? The 2012 budgeted expenditure of $192.8B represents a continuation of ongoing work in the various sectors, targeted at improving living standards and further enhancing the physical and institutional infrastructure required to promote growth, create wealth, and generate employment. Key Achievements in 2011 • Guyana’s economy recorded real growth in GDP of 5.4 per cent, within which non-sugar GDP grew even more rapidly by 5.6 per cent. This represented the sixth consecutive year of positive growth. • Sugar production amounted to 236,506 tonnes, representing a 7.1 per cent increase. • Rice production amounted to 401,904 tonnes, representing 11.3 per cent increase in output, and the highest level of production ever. • The other agriculture subsectors grew by 5.7 per cent, reflecting returns in the Grow More Campaign and the Agricultural Diversification programme. • Gold declarations amounted to 363,083 ounces, a 17.7 per cent increase • Bauxite production amounted to 1,818,399 tonnes, a 68 per cent increase • Manufacturing sector grew by 10.8 per cent. • Financial and insurance services’ sector grew by 9.7 per cent Budget Measures • $6 billion subsidy to GPL, which will benefit the 164,000 subscribers and, by extension, every member of all of the households connected to GPL’s grid. • $4 billion subsidy to GUYSUCO, to the benefit of 18,000 workers • Removal of applicable taxes on equipment used for generating electricity from non-traditional or renewable sources for both household and commercial purposes. • The personal income tax allowance will be increased to $600,000 annually or $50,000 monthly. The income tax threshold in 2012 will now be twice as high as it was in 2006. As a result of this measure, every taxpayer will benefit with higher take home pay. Some 21,000 persons will be removed from the income tax net, and over $3 billion of additional disposable income will be placed in the hands of beneficiaries Targets for 2012 • The economy is projected to continue to grow in 2012, by 4.1 per cent, with the non-sugar economy projected to grow by 4 per cent. This would mark the seventh year of uninterrupted growth • Sugar production is targeted at 250,000 tonnes, 5.7 per cent above 2011 level of production • The rice industry is projected to increase its production even further to 412,425 tonnes, which would be the highest-ever level of production. • The manufacturing sector is targeted to grow by 3.9 per cent • The information and communication sector is expected to grow by 3 per cent. • Transport industry targeted to grow by 9.5 per cent • The engineering and construction industry is targeted to grow by 6.3 per cent • The inflation rate is targeted at 4.6 per cent Education • $26.5 billion has been allocated towards the education sector. • $1 billion allocated for the National School Feeding programme • 3,500 teachers trained by end 2012 • $450 million has been provided for student loans. • $3.3 billion has been allocated for the continued maintenance, rehabilitation, extension and construction of educational facilities countrywide Health • $16.9 billion budgeted for the continued modernisation of the sector. • $672 million budgeted for construction of a 100-bed state-of-the-art specialty hospital

$948 million has been budgeted for the construction and maintenance of health sector buildings and infrastructure nationwide • $387 million budgeted for the training and improvement of public health personnel. • $240 million budgeted for continued distribution of antenatal and infant sprinkles Housing • $3.6 billion is allocated to the housing sector • Allocation of 6,500 house lots and the processing and distribution of 4,000 land titles. • 200 core houses will be constructed Water • $2 billion has been allocated to the water sector to improve the quality of water supply • $900 million is budgeted for the installation of approximately 20 km of transmission and distribution systems. • $400 million is allocated for the construction of 2 new water treatment plants at Wisroc and Amelia’s Ward, to the benefit of approximately 30,000 residents • $150 million budgeted for the installation of 10 photovoltaic systems, upgrade 5 existing water supply systems to the benefit of over 11,000 persons in hinterland communities

Slashed Budget…Jobs Losses and crippling of Projects The combined opposition in Parliament – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) – using their one seat majority slashed the total Budgetary Expenditure by some $20.5 billion that will result in job losses, cuts in subsidies and crippling of some crucial projects. A subsidy to the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) to maintain mainly the national electricity rates in the light of rising fuel prices was slashed from $6 billion by $1 billion. An expected rise of the electricity rate would hike the cost-ofliving. Allocations to the National Communication Network (NCN) and the Government Information News Agency (GINA) of $81 million and $130 million respectively were completely eliminated. The former body was subsidized by approximately ten (10) per cent while GINA which has been responsible for communicating Government’s media business was denied its full allocation. The Office of the President also saw its allocation being slashed by $230 million. The monies which were intended for, among other things, payments to contracted employees will result in the Presidential Office having to reduce significant its workforce. The most crucial governmental office would, therefore, become largely handicapped. Full cuts of $18.3 billion directed towards expenditure under Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) were enforced. The allocation was for the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, land titling of Amerindian communities, the setting up a functional Amerindian Development Fund for Village Economy and a Small Micro-Enterprise Development project. The cut also places government’s climate adaptation projects such as the Cunha Canal project in jeopardy. This project envisages to assist significantly the severe flooding of vast swathes of land on the East Coast of Demerara. Allocations to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) were also reduced by $527 million putting in uncertainty expected local government elections this year. Allocations of $99 million to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), $105 million to the State Planning Secretariat and $20 million to the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), a sensitive security arm of Government, totalling $224 million, were also eliminated.

Blairmont Advisory Committee completes hearings

Workers picketing the Estate’s Administrative Office during the strike ,calling for the removal of the two (2) Managers

The Advisory Committee appointed by the Minister of Labour, Dr N.K. Gopaul, pursuant to Section Six (6) of the Labour Act, and charged with examining the dispute between the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) which led to a strike at Blairmont Estate, starting on February 10, 2012 for twelve (12) days with respect to a demand for the removal of the Estate Manager and the Agricultural Manager, has completed its hearings. Representatives from the workforce and the Management of the Estate provided evidence to the Committee during the hearings, which lasted for seven (7) days. Former Labour Minister Dr Dale Bisnauth, as chairperson and the former Chief Labour Officer, Mohamed Akeel as a member, together with Labour Officer Neville Nichols as Secretary, comprised the Committee’s team which took evidence from a total of twenty-seven (27) persons. The Estate Manager and the Agricultural Manager were among the persons who appeared before the Committee. The Union and the Corporation, on April 19, 2012, concluded their presentations to the Committee. Guysuco officials strongly contended that a case was not made out for the removal of the two (2) Managers. They argued that the Managers, at all times, were fulfilling their duties in directing work rules. GAWU contended that the two (2) Managers were arbitrarily changing conditions of work without prior discussions with the Union, and they failed to communicate to the workers the intended changes. The Union emphasized in its submission that the evidence from both the Union and Management established that there were arbitrary adjustments and changes to long-standing conditions of work, and the workers recognised that the two (2) Managers were pivotal in having the changes implemented without consulting them and/or their Union. GAWU also contended that the Management’s actions resulted in the workers losing confidence in the two Managers, who are supposed to be team leaders of the Estate. The Report by the Advisory Committee to the Minister of Labour is now being awaited. It will include the Committee’s findings and any relevant recommendation/s.

COMBAT is a publication of the Guyana Agricultural & General Workers Union (GAWU) 59 High Street & Wights Lane, Kingston, Georgetown, Guyana, S.A. Tel: 592-227-2091/2; 225-5321 , 223-6523 Fax: 592-227-2093 Email: gawu@bbgy.com Website: www.gawu.net


Combat - March/April, 2012 edition