Trade unionists challenge representation on Constitutional Reform Commission

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2024, 22:25 by Writer

Two trade unionists from affiliates of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) are asking the High Court to stop the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC) from carrying out its functions because the labour movement was not consulted about who should be the workers’ representative.

Filed through their lawyer, Roysdale Forde, 2nd Vice President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), Julian Cambridge and General Secretary of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Kempton Alexander are objecting to the trade union’s representative on the CRC, Aslim Singh.

Messrs. Cambridge and Alexander want the High Court to issue several declarations including one that “the failure to engage in any consultation with the constituent Labour Unions which in Guyana constitute the Labour Movement as referred to in Section 4 of the Constitution Reform Commission Act No. 16 of 2022 renders the said Constitution Reform Commission not lawfully and validly constituted.”

Mr Singh is General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) which is associated with the ruling People’s Progressive Party. That union is also an affiliate of the breakaway Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana which appears to enjoy a cozy relationship with the PPP, while the GTUC and a number of its affiliates are associated with the opposition People’s National Congress Reform/A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).

The GTU and GPSU unionists contend that President Irfaan Ali’s appointment of Mr Singh as a representative of Labour has breached Guyana’s constitution because there was no consultation as envisaged and provided for in the Preamble to the Constitution of Guyana, Article 13 of the Constitution of Guyana, the Constitution Reform Commission Act No. 16 of 2022 and is procedurally irrational, null, void and of no legal effect.

The High Court is being asked by Messrs. Alexander and Cambridge to declare that the Constitution Reform Commission Act No. 16 of 2022 is inconsistent as it seeks to establish a Commission and confer the said Commission with functions which are exclusively vested in the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Constitutional Reform by Article 119 A of the Constitution of Guyana.

They also want the High Court to issue an order directing the CRC not to act or engage in any of the functions, duties and obligations conferred on it until a nominee representing the Labour Movement is appointed in accordance with Section 4 of the Constitution Reform Commission Act No. 16 of 2022 after consultations with the Labour Unions constituting the Labour Movement.

The applicants listed 19 labour organisations, and said that they checked with 15 of them who said they were never consulted to submit the name of any person to be the nominee of the labour movement.