- Regional MP said visit failed to address real issues
It has been more than three weeks employees attached to the Linden Utilities Service Coop Society Limited (LUSCSL), are striking against unfair working conditions they claim are being meted out to them since the installation of the Interim Management Committee (IMC). The workers have been publicly calling for an engagement with subject Minister Joseph Hamilton or another high government official. After hearing about the President Irfaan Ali’s visit to the community on Monday, the workers believe that the president should have given them an audience, as the visit sought to address issues affecting Lindeners. “It is weeks now we are calling on a government official to speak with us, just hear our concern, no one is listening, no one is paying us any mind and now the President was up here and it is in the media that many many workers are striking at the Coop, at least he could have met with us,” show that he cares for us,” one distraught employee said.
Workers are accusing certain members of the IMC of victimization and creating a toxic working environment. Through the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union, they have listed several terms of resumption which include the removal of IMC member Courtney Handy, the immediate appointment of workers acting in vacant positions, an inquiry into the conduct of the IMC since installation, amongst other things.
In a recent interview with NCN, Minister Hamilton said the workers are engaged in an illegal strike and that there are several procedures before reaching to this point. He told the employees to stop being used as tools since they will not be paid for the period they are off striking. Rather than victimize the Coop, the minister said the IMC has rescued the organization from bankruptcy and that the government will not allow workers and their allies to run Wismar into darkness.
Meanwhile Region 10 Member of Parliament Jermaine Figueira, in a statement, said that the abrupt visit by the president, did not allow the residents the real opportunity to ventilate and speak on issues that are affecting the community. Some of these issues he mentioned include severe unemployment of particularly young people, the deliberate awarding of contracts to non-local contractors who are government supporters, denying locals to be economically empowered from the region’s budgetary allocation, the poor condition of schools, poorly built roads, drainage and other infrastructural works, amongst other things. He also spoke about the Linden Enterprise Network not being in operation more than two years, the denial of opportunities for locals to attend the nursing school and much more.
During an exchange between Figueira and President Ali at the Bayroc Ground, the President accused the MP and his party of not doing anything for five years. “I was disappointed of not being afforded the opportunity like many others due to the constant interruptions of the president with his political banter and rhetoric to avoid serious issues being raised. It is not about to competition of the synthetic track for me, it is about the additional amenities, adequate seating accommodation, sports equipment and gears for all athletes for the respective disciplines, the opportunities for coaches to be trained, nutrition and other matters of importance. Coming to the community unannounced is a clear indication that the president is not serious about listening, about hearing and addressing the concerns of the people in this community,” he said in a statement.
During his visit, President Ali outlined several developmental works slated for Linden which include construction of a new Mackenzie/ Wismar bridge, rehabilitation of the Linden Soesdyke Highway, development in the education, tourism and agricultural sector. He visited several communities and interacted with residents such as Victory Valley, Amelia’s Ward and Wisroc.