MNRE Permanent Secretary, Joslyn Mc Kenzie, however, could not say whether the ministry would give into the demands for the anniversary observance to be held on the customary July 31. “That’s something I can’t answer at the moment. That is something we’ll need to receive further guidance on and some more consultations so I wouldn’t eb able to answer categorically,” he said.
Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) has seen a note to GGMC’s Assistant Commissioner, Newell Dennison in which Mc Kenzie has told him that approval “has not been granted” for the anniversary observance to be held on July 31. Instead, MNRE has decided that that event must be held during Mining Week (August 25 to 31) to coincide with the holding of a major mining conference which is expected to attract overseas experts.
“We asked to look and see if they can incorporate the anniversary and bursary during the week. We have not cancelled it,” the MNRE said. Against the background of fluctuating gold prices and the attendance of experts from the region, the MNRE hoped that the conference and GGMC’s anniversary would benefit from that type of context.
But a large group of vocal GGMC workers picketed the MNRE, which is next to door to the commission, vent their anger at the ministry’s decision. Their placards read “GGMC annual awards must be presented at the annual anniversary on July 31,” “GGMC 34th anniversary must be held as planned. It is not an option,” “Good manners. It is 2 days to the celebration. Approve now. We object to the intervention,” and “We will not be moved. 34th anniversary celebration must go on.”
The GGMC workers have also rejected the MNRE’s suggestion that a pre-emancipation event be held for workers in the commission’s compound. GGMC workers’ representative, John Applewhaite Hercules noted that the yard is polluted with “raw” sewage and unfit for the holding of such activities. “This commission has an environmental, occupational and health and safety hazard. Sewage, raw s…t overflows from the septic tank and it fills the yard. Whenever, there is a heavy rainfall, the filth from the sewage tank, overflows and intermixes with water and the employees have to walk through that raw sewage,” said GGMC workers’ representative, John Applewhaite Hercules.
But the MNRE said the venue was not an issue because a suitable one could be found.
Hercules told reporters from the picket line that staffers rejected the MNRE’s unilateral move to push back the event. “If this communication could have been better communicated and there was proper consultation done, I am certain that some level of facilitation could have been done,” he said.
Dennison’s letter seen by DemWaves states that arrangements had been already finalized for the event to be held at the Princess Hotel, invitations to awardees have been dispatched and tokens to awardees have been commissioned. “All is in train for a pleasant time and it will inconvenient and unwelcome for changes to be contemplated at this time,” he said in a letter dated July 24.