GAWU responds to APNU/AFC supporter

first_imgDear Editor,Known APNU/AFC supporter, Mr Abel Seetaram, in a letter appearing in the December 12 Guyana Chronicle, was allowed to use that newspaper’s letter columns to pursue a maligned and falsehood-filled attack on our Union. It appears that the letter signer has friends in high places. But that is entirely another story.The GAWU, when considering the utterances written under Mr Seetaram’s hand, debated whether it really should take the time to offer a response. The individual, who is known for his escapades, cannot be even deemed a political featherweight. We, nevertheless, decided to pen this response though knowing that the individual is really no more than a mere hanger-on but his sentiments will likely be read by the Chronicle’s readership and his fiction may well be deemed as the truth.The ‘letter writer’ begins his missive by denouncing the recent protests by sugar workers which, in his little mind, he contends have been politically influenced. Maybe the individual, who may not have even signed his letter, should have prefaced his letter with “once upon a time”. We hate to burst the bubble he lives in but the actions by sugar workers were only fuelled by the atrocious treatment they have received at the hands of the coalition government. Certainly, any rational human being would react in the same manner.We wonder how Mr Seetaram would react were he in the shoes of a sugar worker. How would he feel that he could not afford to buy something nice for his house or to even just add a fresh coat of paint to brighten up the home for the holidays? How would he feel that he could not afford to buy a nice meal for his family or not even a little gift for his children? These, Mr Seetaram, or whoever is the real author, are feelings of the sugar workers at this time. It is now the fifth Christmas they are enduring since their rates-of-pay have remained unchanged. This is their new reality and is apparently is the ‘good life’ they were promised.It is next said that GAWU lost its voice during the PPP/C Administration. It seems like the RDC Councillor has the tendencies of an ostrich and he has probably hidden his head in the ground all that time. The GAWU has never ever lost its voice. Our advocacy on behalf of our membership had never ceased. Of course, when it comes to sugar, we did not have to contend with a heartless bunch as we have now. But our voice allowed workers’ pay and conditions-of-work to be improved. Our voice saw many workers becoming homeowners and sending their children to high school and beyond, a cherished dream for many. Our voice saw justice and fairness prevailing and our voice spoke up on behalf of the industry. So, no Mr Seetaram, we haven’t ever lost our voice but it is because of our voice that you and your ilk are upset that we continue to speak up and speak out?We are told that our voice was not heard when two estates were closed supposedly under the PPP/C Administration. Of course, we have addressed this matter on several occasions, and given what we know of Mr Seetaram, we believe, our time can be better spent than re-hashing what we have explained before.On the NIS, Mr Seetaram, sugar workers know too of our advocacy. Over the years, we have probably represented thousands of workers in regards to the different problems they encounter with the Scheme. At this very time, we are pursuing many matters with the NIS’ local and central offices. Just recently, the NIS agreed with our request to have central engagements with a view to addressing matters more quickly. Similarly, we have continued to actively represent workers’ grievances. Our representation has been successful on several occasions. As a responsible Union, we cannot ignore the workers’ matters which are so germane to our work.Mr Seetaram next criticises, without any foundation, our Union’s leadership. We want to say that the election of the GAWU leadership is done by the Union’s membership through delegates present at our Congresses— which are held in keeping with our Constitution. Certainly, we want to believe the Councillor understands this process. Not too long ago, Mr Seetaram’s own party had elections where certain persons were elected. Of course, we did see concerns being expressed about whether the process was really democratic. We want to tell the letter writer that our Union upholds genuine democratic practices, unlike what Mr Seetaram may be accustomed to.Mr Seetaram, in the letter, also referred to promises to Guyanese. But while he talks about commitments, he apparently does not remember what his colleagues told sugar workers. He does not remember that they said sugar is too big to fail. He fails to recollect that workers were told that the coalition “will not, in any way, close the sugar industry”. We are sure he has forgotten about the twenty per cent pay rise promised. So he should not even be talking about promises.It is clear as day Mr Seetaram and his political colleagues are upset by our reminder of their commitments and our consistent advocacy on behalf of the nation’s sugar workers. The reality is that the shabby and discriminatory treatment that has been meted out to this group of Guyanese cannot be condoned. Did Mr Seetaram and company really expect us to remain silent by these anti-worker practices? Of course, no doubt, our regularly raised voice is what irks them so much. They want to be seen without damnable records when really, they are wolves in sheep clothing.Yours faithfully,Seepaul NarineGeneral SecretaryGAWUlast_img read more

Africare-Liberia Seeks More Partnerships, Africare-Liberia Seeks More Partnerships

first_imgAfricare-Liberia Country Director has disclosed plans by the entity to seek for more partnerships in order to improve the health care delivery system of ‘vulnerable Liberians.’ Africare-Liberia Country Director said they are going to do it by forging partnership with authorities at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH/SW) and other donor partners including the Government of Japan.Mr. Ernest K. Gaie’s statement was contained in remarks he made over the weekend during ceremony marking the official handover of two maternal waiting homes to the representatives of the Government of Japan from their Embassy in Accra, Ghana.The handover ceremony was held Friday, June 13, in Congo Town, Monrovia.The Japanese then turned the keys over to a Representative of the district at the National Legislature, Lester Paye—who also turned the keys over to the district health officer, Francis D. Kollie, and the president of the Trained Traditional Midwives (TTMs), Rebecca Zallen.According to Mr. Gaie, Africare has been a faithful partner to the Government of Liberia (GOL), particularly through the Ministries of Agriculture and Health and Social Welfare since 1992 serving communities in Bong, Nimba and Grand Cape Mount Counties.“If we don’t communicate our achievements and challenges to beneficiaries, stakeholders, and donors, no one will know what we are doing. However, we appreciate them for their confidence in our ability to deliver, because we pledged our continued commitment to working with the government and people of Liberia in achieving our developmental goals,” declared Mr. Gaie.Prior to turning the keys over to the First Secretary at the Japanese Embassy in Ghana, Yushihiko Higuchi, Mr. Gaie expressed gratitude for the construction of the homes in areas where access to health facilities have been difficult. Mr. Higuchi was accompanied to Liberia by a colleague, Yuki Takanashi.For his part, Mr. Higuchi assured Africare and the Government of Liberia (GOL) of his country’s desire to ensure that more development aids come to Liberia with the aims to reduce poverty.“We are delighted for these projects, because the community members are also delighted. Our intervention shows our commitments to the development of Africare-Liberia to implement most of the intended projects, because we need more services—not the building facilities as the process was just the beginning,” Mr. Higuchi asserted to a round of applause.Those facilities were supported by the people of Japan under the Grant Assistant for Grassroots Human Security Project. It became necessary when the Japanese Government committed funding of US$112, 959 for the construction and full furnishing of the two maternal waiting homes in Haindi and Fenutole, Bong County.The grant had supported Africare-Liberia’s efforts in assisting the GOL and the MOH/SW achieves its national policy road map for accelerating the reduction of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality in the country.Africare, on the motto, “Improving Lives, Building Futures,” is supported by ministries of Agriculture, Health and Social Welfare, USAID, The Links Incorporated, UN Women, Government of Japan and IFAD enabling poor rural people to among other things, overcome poverty.The Links Incorporated Waiting Home at Phebe was dedicated in February last year.The entity works with a mission to improve the quality of the people of Africa. It is a leading non-governmental organization committed to addressing African development and policy issues by working in partnership with African people to build sustainable, healthy and productive communities.The maternal waiting homes address many challenges pregnant women and mothers face in accessing basic health care.It is an opened secret that many expectant mothers in Liberia complain about distances to health facilities and the lack of safe accommodation. With the Japanese Government’s support and Africare Liberia’s implementation, pregnant women in Haindii, Fenutole and its environs will be able to access facilities-based care before and during delivery.The idea behind the Africare sponsored maternal waiting homes is to provide pregnant women an opportunity to convalesce before the birth of their children.At present, there are eight completed maternal waiting homes including the ones in Yila Mission (first commissioned in March, 2011), and Phebe Compound, Suakoko District respectively.After delivery, the women spend a maximum of three days in the waiting home, but in the case of special deliveries, the women are allowed to stay even longer where they are attended to by a trained traditional midwife. Each patient (mother) normally leaves the waiting home with a “mama baby kit” filled with soap, a baby blanket, shirts and rubber underwear for the newborns.Earlier in his welcome and introductory remarks, Africare Senior Primary Health Coordinator in Bong County, George Toe said, the project intends to bring lots of benefits to Liberia, mainly to locals of the two communities.According to him, maternal mortality is a major issue in the country; this is why the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals-Five (MDG-5) which seeks to reduce maternal mortality by two-third before 2015 became necessary.Therefore, in Liberia, Mr. Toe said, the strategy of meeting that goal is to increase access to facility-based delivery. However, taking into consideration access of the rural poor, most of them live beyond five kilometer distances; this means one does not have access to the nearby health facility; therefore, the initiative being embarked upon by Africare and partners is to address the issue of access to facility-based health care delivery, among other developments.In remark also, Representative Paye acknowledged the intervention of the Japanese through its international corporation (JICA) in the development of Liberia.However, the Bong County lawmaker decried the many challenges including the deplorable road networks across the country.“With all the construction of the beautiful health facilities, if no access to the road how will the patients and or the pregnant women be transported easily to these facility-based deliveries,” Rep. Paye lamented.He then appealed to the Japanese through the two First Secretaries to not consider the commissioning of the maternal waiting homes as the end of their intervention to help Liberia, but the beginning.The District Health Officer, Francis D. Kollie and the president of the TTMs, Rebecca Zallen both them expressed gratitude to Africare-Liberia and their Japanese counterpart for the project promised to maintain them at all times.The Friday’s ceremony was attended by several other individuals including some members of Africare’s staffers, local chiefs and representatives from the office of Bong County Superintendent among others.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more