The President’s announcement that the US$15 million contract for the access roads to the Amalia Falls, in preparation for the construction of the hydro power facility, has long been awaited. It comes after years of effort by Synergy Holdings and creative assistance by President Jagdeo in encouraging Synergy and in assisting to secure the financing. This expenditure alone, a small part of the US$450 million project, will create many, much needed jobs.
Synergy Holdings has been doggedly persistent. Even when oil prices were too low to make hydro an attractive alternative to oil, it never gave up. Now that all the circumstances have come together – confidence in the economy, high oil prices, support from the international banking community and, of critical importance, President Jagdeo’s support – Synergy’s confidence in the ultimate acceptance of its proposal has paid off, for the company and shareholders no doubt, but big time for Guyana.
Continue reading “THE AMALIA FALLS HYDRO PROJECT”
I do not believe in the existence of evil spirits. Many, perhaps most people, do. Had I so believed, I would not have hesitated to conclude that I must have been possessed to have done some of the stupid things I did in life. But that’s another story.
During the 1960s I witnessed several Kali Mai Pujas conducted in my community. The major parts of the ceremony consisted of blood and violence – the sacrifice of a goat and the whipping of the evil spirits from persons who were thought to be possessed and brought for the purpose. In the frenzy which was generated by the beating drums, the possessed person would begin dancing in a hypnotic trance to the pulsating drumbeat. The officiating priest would then proceed to mercilessly beat the evil spirit from the possessed person with a ‘wild cane’ until the possessed person fainted, a sign that the evil spirit had departed. Several members of the audience would then display signs of possession and begin dancing similarly. They would also have the same treatment meted out to them.
Continue reading “POSSESSION BY EVIL SPIRITS”
T.E.S.P.A. is the lawyers’ acronym for the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act. It was passed in 1997 and is one of the most important pieces of legislation in the history of Guyana. Its objective is “to provide for the conditions governing termination of employment and grant of redundancy or severance pay to employees and for matters connected therewith.”
Issues affecting workers confront lawyers, employers and trade unions on a regular basis, not to mention workers themselves. Individual workers who do not belong to trade unions are sometimes at the mercy of some employers who are unscrupulous. They would dismiss workers at will and refuse to pay severance pay. Because these workers have no collective strength they are unable to enforce their rights. They either cannot afford to retain the services of lawyers or the sum is not large enough for a lawyer to pursue. The Ministry of Labour is not always accessible or is not always able to overcome the objections of some employers.
Continue reading “T. E. S. P. A. AND THE WORKERS OF DIAMOND ESTATE”
The National Insurance Scheme which was established by the PNC Government during its term of office was an act of foresight. It has provided a vital safety net for thousands of Guyanese faced with illness or disability arising from accidents during the course of employment. The contributions are burdensome for the lower paid and the benefits are wholly inadequate. But were it not for the NIS, nothing would have been forthcoming. It is to the credit of successive PNC and PPP/C Governments to have ensured the survival of the NIS which has the critical support of all Guyanese.
Under the National Insurance and Social Security Act, persons who are between the ages of sixteen and sixty and who are gainfully occupied in insurable employment are required to be insured and to remain so insured for life. Persons who are insured are entitled to a range of assistance including invalidity benefit, survivor’s benefit, sickness benefit, maternity benefit, funeral benefit, child care benefit and constant attendance benefit.
Continue reading “THE NIS AND PENSIONERS”
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) launched its GAWU Labour College last Thursday, built at a cost of $110 million. It was a memorable event. A large cross-section of Guyanese was present – from labour, business and politics – and they joined in welcoming the opening of the school by Senior Counsel, Ashton Chase, erstwhile eminent politician and labour leader. The President of GAWU, Komal Chand, outlined the aims and objectives of the College. The Ministers of Labour and Education offered their congratulations and pledged their support. Dr. Ana Teresa Romero, the director of the International Labour Organisation Subregional Office for the Caribbean, addressed the ceremony which was chaired by the Principal of the College, Navin Chandrapal. The establishment of the College was recognized by all the speakers to be an outstanding achievement for the Union and a milestone for labour education for Guyana.
The GAWU Labour College is the second of its kind in Guyana. The Critchlow Labour College was established many years ago and is managed by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). It was a flourishing educational institution which was heavily subsidized by the Government. However, the division in the labour movement had its inevitable repercussions on the Critchlow Labour College. The subsidies from the Government were discontinued as a result of disagreement in the implementation of reforms in the management of the Critchlow Labour College. It has recently opened its doors once again and it must be the hope of all persons of goodwill that Critchlow will be restored to its place of eminence in the educational system as soon as possible.
Continue reading “THE GAWU LABOUR COLLEGE”