The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) on Friday rejected the National Assembly’s unanimously approved motion for broader trade union representation on the Board of the Critchlow Labour College (CLC) in return for the restoration of the badly needed state subvention.
GTUC General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis and CLC Principal, Ivor English said audits have not uncovered any evidence of financial skulduggery. Lewis could not immediately say when last financial records were deposited with the Deeds Registry as is required by law.
“From what I have seen from the accounts up to 2007 there was nothing untoward,” he told a news conference held to react to the National Assembly’s approval of the motion Thursday night.
The Principal in a more conciliatory tone said CLC’s ‘books’ were open for examination by anyone and the institution was willing to talk with anyone interested in seeing the institution progress. “We are not averse with respect to consultations and discussions as they relate to the forward thrust of the institution and I think that we are amenable to any discussions and opening our records for assessments relative to what we have done with respect to the development of the institution,” he said.
The Auditor Office, Lewis recalled, had audited the special account into which the State subvention had been deposited.
Lewis said A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine never raised concerns about accountability while serving as principal of that institution.
He dismissed efforts by the National Assembly to dictate who should sit on the CLC’s Board, saying that the college was a private entity governed by its own constitution. “For the National Assembly to arbitrarily take a decision to impose a new management structure on the college is a usurpation of the bylaws of these institutions and a matter no law-abiding citizen should countenance much less be voting on in the National Assembly,” he said.
While Lewis welcomed the Alliance For Change’s (AFC)-sponsored motion in an attempt to address the prolonged grievance, he accused the opposition of falling into a government trap of having the motion approved for four representatives each from the GTUC and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana to sit on the CLC Board. “For the PPP, this vote in the National Assembly is the cover needed to continue its discriminatory action. The opposition has sadly given their discriminatory act legitimacy. They were totally outmanoeuvred by the government,” he said. The AFC’s motion was amended to include GTUC-FITUG representatives on the board based on a recommendation made by Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) back-bencher Manzoor Nadir and supported by Roopnaraine.
With FITUG’s affiliates being largely regarded as pro-government, the GTUC General Secretary charged that four of FITUG’s representatives plus one each from the Ministry of Education and Labour would actually mean that six government representatives would be sitting on the Board. “The GTUC is not prepared to sell its rights to the government or to any other institution,” he said.
The GTUC boss recalled that APNU had on a number of occasions asked that FITUG be represented on CLC’s Board in return for the grant- a call that had been repeatedly rejected.
Lewis and English said CLC needed the subvention of more than GUY$30 million annually to assist in upgrading and maintaining infrastructure of the non-formal education institution. “I think through the programmes of the college we are moving steadily towards being self-sustainable operationally but if the institution is going to be well-positioned to discharge its roles and its functions it needs to maintain an environment that is attractive and is suitable for learning and the delivery of the curriculum,” he said.