first_imgWith trade unions renewing their calls for the re-establishment of the Labour Ministry, the Social Cohesion Strategic Plan finds that workers in the interior and rural areas are not adequately represented and as such, they are underpaid and overworked.The report identified mining and logging workers, out-of-school youths, domestic and unskilled workers and Indigenous peoples in the interior and rural coastal areas as the most disadvantaged when it comes to employment.Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton presenting the Social Cohesion Strategy 2017-2021 report to Prime Minister Moses NagamootooIt stated that these workers are the ones who have inadequate access to jobs and if they do find secure employment, they are, most of the times, “not adequately paid for work done and experience discrimination in the workplace”.“Consultations in the interior regions identified Indigenous persons as experiencing discrimination in the workplace such as those in mining, logging, the hospitality sector, farm hands,” the report added.It further identifies the Social Cohesion Ministry as the advocacy ministry for responsive labour and social protection agencies and mechanisms.Under the former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, there was a ministry solely dedicated to deal with the issues of labour. However, when the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government took office in 2015, it scrapped that ministry and introduced the Social Protection Ministry equipped with a labour department.The move was disapproved of by trade unions, and they have since been calling on the Government for the re-introduction of the Labour Ministry rather than a department to deal with the issues.The call was renewed by Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) General Secretary Lincoln Lewis at the united trade unions’ May Day rally. Lewis said a Labour Ministry was important for shaping and executing labour policies that affect all Guyanese workers — past, present and potential.However, President David Granger believes the labour portfolio is appropriately placed under the Social Protection Ministry, which covers a broad area.Efforts to contact Social Protection Minister Amna Ally for a comment on the findings highlighted in the report proved futile.Citizens’ safety, securityThe report also highlighted that citizens do not feel safe in their communities owing to a number of factors ranging from lack of health services to growing incidents of murder and robberies.“The feedback on recent examples where the Police have responded promptly and dealt with criminal activity in the neighbourhood or community can only be described as deeply troubling. In most of the consultations, irrespective of whether they were in urban, coastal, rural, or interior communities, participants reflected deep disappointment with the lack of, or limited, response of the Police to criminal activity in their neighbourhoods or communities,” it informed.The lack of, or late, Police response is a troubling indication of a serious area of deficit in the promotion of the social cohesion agenda in Guyana, according to the report. However, during the consultation period, it was found that the Community Policing Groups (CPGs) were more effective than the Police and there was a call for those groups to be formed in communities where they do not exist.“There is much work to be done in advocacy for legislation and action to address some of the more concerning deficits in the ways citizens experience safety and security, such as the way law enforcement officers are, allegedly, not responding appropriately to the rights and expectations of citizens; and the functioning of the courts with respect to the perceived lack of severity of custodial sentences to deter offenders. The Ministry of Social Cohesion may also have a role in advocating for better equipment, provisioning, and training of Police Officers in human rights, interpersonal relations, and cultural sensitivity, especially for such officers posted to interior regions and communities with Amerindian populations,” it recommended.The Social Cohesion Strategy 2017-2021 was presented to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo by Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton for consideration at the Social Cohesion Day celebration on Thursday last.last_img