Minister Hamilton rubbishes claims of discrimination at co-op societies

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton has rubbished claims by Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton of racial discrimination at co-op societies.

During his October 25 press conference, Norton claimed that several co-op societies across the country including the Mocha-Arcadia Multi-purpose Agricultural Co-op Society, are experiencing racism from the central government.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton

He claimed that the co-op has not been receiving a subvention from the government.

Minister Hamilton in an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Wednesday, said Norton was being disingenuous.

“Central government has no direct relationship with the Mocha-Arcadia Multi-purpose Agricultural Co-op Society about subvention. [Therefore] interaction between government and co-op societies are [only] done via the Chief Co-op Development Officer (CCDO), which is a statutory position – not a political position that is governed by law and procedures.”

Moreover, the transfer of funds by the International Decade of People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana (IDPADA-G) without reference to the co-op department of the Ministry of Labour, “is a breach, because before a co-op society can access a grant, a loan, a subvention, etc., the reference point, to begin with, would have been the co-op department. Therefore, the rules and regulations have been breached with regards to the transfer of funds.”

Minister Hamilton clarified that the Ministry of Labour through the CCDO is only fulfilling its obligation, which is to regularise all societies as set out in the Co-operative Societies Act, Laws of Guyana (Cap. 88:01).

Regarding the infighting disrupting the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Minister Hamilton said the disruption is occurring between parties that have openly pledged their allegiance to the APNU/AFC opposition party.

Therefore, attributing the need for control by the PPP/C Government of the GPSU is simply nonsensical and has no merit, minister Hamilton opined.

“The conversation that is supposedly occurring in the public domain by the opposition is that the membership of credit unions and/or co-op societies are only made up of Afro-Guyanese, this is ludicrous, to begin with.”

The labour minister made it clear that the membership make-up of any of the organisations that the opposition states are being victimised cannot be taken seriously.

“Any public servant can become a member of the GPSU and co-op societies that have members who are not Afro-Guyanese because the neighbourhood that they hold interests in are made up of Guyanese from all ethnic background.”

Furthermore, the minister slammed the fabrication and lies being peddled about other co-op societies such as Essequibo, Vigalstra Housing, and the Linden Utility Services Co-op Society.

“Our authority is to supervise coop societies to ensure that they are run transparently with accountability,” the minister said.