Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gillian Burton's false premise!

Yesterday marked 61 years since five sugar workers from Enterprise/Non Pariel on the East Coast of Demerara gave their lives in protest of the working conditions on the Sugar estates as was imposed by their colonial masters. The five have since been remembered as the Enmore Martyrs and a monument erected in commemoration of their bravery and a somber service is also held each year on June 16 in their honour.

Scores turned out at yesterday’s remembrance ceremony, among them family members of the martyrs, Head of State, Bharrat Jagdeo, diplomats, politicians and union leaders. It was on this occasion that President of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Gillian Burton, sought to instill in those gathered that the current working conditions mirror those that caused the five and others to act in a bid to seek change.

She pointed out that there was unorganized system of employment; there were child labour and harsh working conditions for both male and females, there was a starvation salary coupled with a high cost of living, the non-recognition of marriage between Hindus and Muslims which caused dependants not to be compensated adequately among a whole host of other social ills.

She told the gathering those workers, 61 years later, must measure how far the nation has traveled as it relates to working condition.

However such a suggestion by a cantankerous Burton smacks of gross ludicracy as the current working environment can no way mirror what existed during that time or the period preceding 1992. In fact, the shooting of the workers atEnmore was not the first time in Guyana's history that sugar workers were killed whilst demonstrating for better working conditions. The first incident occurred in 1872 at Devonshire Castle where five workers were gunned down by Colonial Police. In 1896 the Police shot five workers and seriously injured several others at Non Pariel. In 1903 eight workers were killed and seven injured at Friends, and in 1913 at Rose Hall fifteen were killed and thirteen wounded. These shootings all occurred on individual estates where workers resorted to strikes and demonstrations in order to force the Sugar Estate owners to improve the working conditions. Do we see any similarities currently?

1 comment:

  1. This is the main turning point in Guyana's history. This is what led Dr Jagan to get up and represent the people of Guyana against the British.