Labour Minister debunks claims by Lincoln Lewis

– over 4, 500 Afro-Guyanese trained in two years

The Labour Ministry, through the Board of Industrial Training, has qualified over 7, 500 persons, 60 per cent or 4, 500 of whom are Afro-Guyanese.

Labour Minister, Joseph Hamilton said he is proud that his ministry’s skills training has provided young Afro-Guyanese with skill sets they did not have under the APNU+AFC Government.

Hon. Joseph Hamilton, Minister of Labour

The skillsets are in high demand for Guyana’s burgeoning economy.

Minister Hamilton shared this information with the Department of Public Information (DPI) on Wednesday while he was responding to accusations levelled against him by the General Secretary of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (Union), Lincoln Lewis.

The union head claimed that the minister is taking part in what he described as the “oppression” of Afro-Guyanese.

This accusation was levelled in an online media publication, stemming from illegal strike action by workers of the Linden Utility Service Coop Society, Limited (LUSCSL) which the union represents.

The minister said these allegations lack credibility.

“The general secretary of the union is trying to take over a co-op society. A co-op society that was mismanaged, to present and proport himself as a representative of black people. However, Mr Lewis lacks credibility, and integrity, and continues to present himself as a moral barometer; even though accusations have been levelled on him by union members of selling them out. ”

Further, the labour ministry has been proactive in addressing the illegal labour dispute called by Lewis.

“We stand by our record of early and proactive intervention and preventative strike action in industrial relations. This particular action is being taken in breach of the Public Utility Undertakings and Public Health Services (Arbitration) Act (Essential Services (Arbitration) Act), Cap.54:01 and is also not in keeping with good industrial relations norms and practices” the ministry said in a press statement.

It said the union and its general secretary are using the media to level accusations against the ministry as a means to concretise the illegal strike.

“High-handed actions on the part of either employers or trade unions do not bode well for good industrial relations. In this case, the union has acted precipitously by calling a strike without first exhausting its grievance to either the management or the ministry.”

Minister Hamilton noted that Lewis fails to comprehend the impact the strike action will have on Afro-Guyanese in Wismar, Region 10.

He said thousands of Afro-Guyanese residents of Linden will be without power if the utility coop society strikes.

This includes business owners, single parents, and school children who will suffer because of an illegal action.

“The Lincoln Lewis’ of this world does not speak for thousands of Afro-Guyanese. We must end this conversation in which they think they do. They must be called out every time they speak because they do not speak on every Afro-Guyanese behalf.

” It’s ludicrous to think that Afro- Guyanese Leaders in government, such as myself oppressing our friends, our cousins, our family, our children, our neighbours, and our school friends, it is an idiotic conversation that can become potent and it must be stopped.”

The PPP/C Government remains committed to its manifesto promise to create 50,000 jobs. In keeping with this promise, new jobs have already been delivered in the mining town of Linden, Region 10.

Midas BPO (Kara Kara Call Centre) has already employed hundreds of youths and aims to employ as many as 1,000 workers.

In a meeting hosted earlier this year by Vice President, Dr Bharat Jagdeo, he said the government is prepared to build other call centres and even factories in the region, as part of its co-investment initiative, while he was announcing 1,000 part-time jobs for Lindener’s at Watooka House.

Dr Jagdeo also said that training is a priority of the government. Oil companies have also been approached about recruiting persons outside of Regions Three and Four.

In addition, Dr Jagdeo announced that some 200 to 250 small grants will be provided to small businesses in the region and a major programme to improve the water supply system and other infrastructural works for the region have begun.