Guyana needs equal opportunity laws

first_imgDear Editor,The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) notes the announcement on Thursday, April 18 by Exxon Mobil of another find, marking the thirteenth on the Stabroek Block.This find will add to the already expected more than five billion barrels to be produced, yet Guyanese workers have no clear understanding or guideline on how they are expected to foremost benefit from these resources that belong to them.Outside of announcements as to profit sharing between Government and the oil companies and sweeping statements, the revenue would be directed towards improving social services on which citizens/workers have nothing concrete to hold on to.GTUC is on record calling for the Government-prepared Local Content Policy to be reviewed by stakeholders with the aim of having same become more inclusive and finally put into law.In our March 5 publicly announced nineteen-point proposal, outlining a menu of measures to forge the constitutional political system of inclusionary democracy, we called for this. Letters of our desire were dispatched to President David Granger and Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo.To date, neither Government nor Opposition has made any move to activate this crucial and important aspect of our development that would assure local labour and businesses that they stand to gain and be protected.Evidently, the politicians see the next General and Regional Elections as the mother of all elections, primarily because oil and gas are expected to flow come 2020.The workers of this country have various political association, a basic right that must be respected, but what they are wary of is that the enjoyment of said right could present a climate where they could be excluded from/discriminated against selling their labour, actively participating and benefitting from the sector.Already, there are allegations of discriminatory practices in preference of one group over the other by local contractors involved in the sector. Similar charges are made about the public and Private Sectors.To take the allegations lightly in a racially fractured and polarised society is to prepare to see the intensifying of tension and clashes amongst groups. This country needs equal opportunity laws as a matter of principle and urgency.People are already staking claims that they stand a chance to benefit. Where expectations are not met, disgruntlement and its attendant fallouts will follow. Now is the time for a national plan, the facilitating of diverse views on how Guyanese can benefit and must be allowed to participate.GTUC reiterates concern that citizens are being made to feel like the national focus is singularly on elections and nothing can happen until after.External forces and internal threatsIn the meantime, the sabre rattling between the superpowers – the United States of America and Russia – over Venezuela is escalating.Where Venezuela has already signalled non-participation in Guyana’s approach to the International Court of Justice to seek a peaceful resolution to the border controversy and has been in alliance with Russian to funnel its oil sales, thus evading US sanctions, we cannot sit easy. Particularly so since the US now has a direct and vested interest in exploiting our oil and gas resources.What is currently evolving in Venezuela, unless we have our defence and protective mechanism in place, can have a deleterious impact in Guyana and amongst Guyanese.Further, the world is replete with evidence where superpowers have sown seeds of discord, undermined Governments and invaded countries in the name of democracy to commandeer their oil and gas resources.Guyanese must be good stewards of history not only in recording and recounting, but also putting systems in place to avoid similar pitfalls.We have to stand as one in the face of our finds and external happenings and not allow ourselves to be the pawns of any in their quest for dominance and proving their might.GTUC reiterates the importance of this nation achieving a unity of purpose and commitment through the establishment of inclusionary Local Content and attendant laws.This nation, as a matter of urgency, must proceed judiciously in addressing matters that are bound to impact our sovereignty, peace and stability, be it internal and/or external.Sincerely,Guyana Trades UnionCongress (GTUC)last_img read more