The GAWU finds it necessary to offer a response to Mr Lincoln Lewis’ letter titled “There is no equity in what GAWU describes and that of BCGI by the Ministry of Labour”, published in the January 13, 2022 edition of the Stabroek News.
Mr Lewis begins his letter by again alleging that the GAWU enjoys, in his mind, “preferential treatments” by the Ministry of Labour. He articulates this view against the background that the ministry addresses grievances brought to it through the grievance procedure outlined in agreement the union has with enterprises where it enjoys bargaining rights. We fail to see how this could be seen as preferential as our union pursues matters through the grievance procedure and would seek, when necessary, the ministry’s assistance to bring about a resolution. The GAWU is at a loss to find a logical connection to this being preferential. Rather, contrary to Lincoln’s seemingly warped views, we are pursuing our responsibilities to our members.
We share the view that the ministry has a role in seeking to resolve disputes between workers/unions and employers. That is a one of the main functions of the ministry. Of course, as Lincoln well knows, the discussion of matters does not begin at the level of the ministry but follows a stalemate at the bilateral level. It is against this background that GAWU addresses grievances with the ministry. We recognised, from media reports, this was the ministry’s position relative to the GPL matter Mr Lewis harps about in his letter. In that case, we saw, bilateral discussions were not exhausted in that case.
Mr Lewis goes on to speak about Minister Joseph Hamilton relative to the GTU’s recent ‘Isolation Day’ activity. We do not hold any brief from the minister, who certainly is more than capable of offering his own response, should he so choose. It is said that the minister would react differently were it GAWU. Again, Mr Lewis makes such accusation without any shred of evidence but goes on, in our view, to malign our union in a wild and unsubstantiated fashion. We wonder to what end is the unionist seeking to seeming pursuing a divisive tenor.
We get to the meat of the matter, we believe, when Mr Lewis addresses his union’s issues with the BCGI. Again, we cannot offer a response for the ministry on the matter. However, we fail to see how our efforts to ensure the rights of our members are respected be contrasted with the situation between the BCGI and the GB&GWU. Certainly, Lincoln and his union may want to assess what other steps it could take outside of the ministry to address the apparent strong concerns. The GAWU, in the past, utilised other avenues to ensure workers receive justice. We remain proud of our efforts to ensure workers’ rights are upheld, and we do not believe we should be loathed for our work.