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Signs of dissent at FITUG May Day rally

President Donald Ramotar (inset at lectern) addressing FITUG’s 2015 May Day Rally.

Amid loud pockets of heckling, cheers and inattentive persons, President Donald Ramotar belched out his party’s pro-worker record and promises of improvements if he wins next week’s general elections. “The government does not have any intention to privatise the industry. It would largely depend on the challenges of the workers to also help to produce more effectively so that the industry can remain in the hands of the people of this country,” he said. He repeated that government would spend an additional GUY$20 billion on improving the Guyana Sugar Corporation to produce electricity, alcohol, ethanol and refined and specialised sugars.

Addressing a rally organised by the government-friendly Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) at the National Park, Ramotar promised that the state-owned sugar industry would not be privatised.

When he referred to increases in wages, salaries and pensions since 1992, a member of the Guyana Labour Union shouted “it only soundin big, it ain’t big.” On the specific matter of Old Age Pension, another woman remarked “you own bigger than we own. Too late.,” in apparent reference to the benefits being enjoyed by former presidents.

Looking ahead to victory at the May 11, 2015 elections, another attendee said “never,never” and “change, change.”

Other comments include “Same promise”, “We fed up”, “We aint want hear bout duh”, and “Corrupt. Corrupt,” “Enough is enough,” and “change,” change” when he talked about plans to build Amaila Falls Hydropower station and also create high paying jobs now that there has been an improvement in the quality of education.

While other pockets of inattentive persons were in the western stand busy drinking rum, vodka and beers, the President urged Guyanese to consider his party in government’s record on housing, health and education.

After criticizing the opposition’s performance over the last three years since the 2011 general elections in which his party lost its majority in the 65-seat National Assembly by 6,000 votes, the President appealed to the gathering for their support but he did not explicitly ask them for their votes. “Now is the time for you to give us your solidarity so that we can take our country forward and make it one of the best countries in the world,” he said to cheers, jeers and shouts of  “no way, no way, no way.”

President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWÙ), Komal Chand stopped short of openly urging attendees to vote for the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).

Chand, whose union is closely aligned to the PPP, said thousands of jobs were affected by the “injudicious budget cuts” by the then opposition-controlled parliament.

He appealed to the Guyana Elections Commission and attendees from several unions to free, fair and peaceful elections so that the democracy won in 1992 is preserved.

Most of the attendees were transported by at least eight trucks that are contracted by Guysuco to shuttle field workers to and from work.