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Labour Minister apologises to GTUC, FITUG for “impotence” remark

Minister in the Ministry of Social Protection responsible for labour, Keith Scott

Minister with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott has expressed regret for his statement made about the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), and the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) during the debate on the estimates for the 2017 National Budget on December 20 in the National Assembly.

Minister Scott said, “I made the mistake, that statement is regrettable, I’m solely responsible for the statement being made. I take full responsibility for saying so, and it takes nothing out of me to say to FITUG, GTUC, media and to the citizens of Guyana, that I’m sorry.”

He called those organisations impotent, prompting a sharp reaction from them about whether that reflects government’s posture towards the labour movement, a major stakeholder.

Minister Scott made his apology at a press conference today, in the presence of Chief Labour Officer, Charles Ogle, GTUC’s General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis and other members of FITUG and GTUC.

Minister Scott said that while the situation is unfortunate, he has always been committed, and will continue to be dedicated towards trade unions, and the principles of trade unionism and brotherhood. He added that since his assumption to office, he has been pursuing the goals of trade union unity, even among unrecognised unions.

“Some unions had issues with people they represented and employers. Whenever we have been invited to participate, though we tried to avoid interfering even though we have the power to interfere in any dispute with or without invitation, I have played my part. Under my watch, we always tried to wait until we are invited by parties, employers or employees, and I have always tried to show a balance,” Minister Scott explained.

Additionally, Minister Scott pointed out that he has always made full representation for workers. He pointed out that he has fought tirelessly to provide a balance between employees and their employers even though industrial relations may take time.

The Minister indicated that his Ministry has been calling in unions to listen to workers’ complaints’ especially about labour officers and senior officers. “… as the Minister, I can say there has never been an employer or employee who has come to this Ministry, has been unable to see me, and if they can’t see me because I might be at another engagement, we have responded to all letters.”

In relation to the need for a Labour Ministry, Minister Scott said his department has been successful thus far, and will continue to carry out its mandate.

Minister Scott said that he will continue to take his responsibilities seriously, especially since; it is something he has been trained to do.