Linden situation needs to be resolved before week-end says Guyana private sector
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thursday, August 9, 2012 – The Guyana Private Sector Commission (PSC) is of warning that hundreds of jobs at stake and potential investment in the mining industry could be cut off if the protest situation in the village of Linden is not resolved soon.
“People are losing their jobs…I believe we are approaching the tipping point if this problem does not end within the next 24-48 hrs the result could be serious… we understand that Toucan Connections has decided to lay off its employees… BOSAI, which had a massive investment plan, is thinking again because they cannot even get their managers into the plant,” chairman of the PSC Ronald Webster lamented.
Lindeners began on July 18 what was meant to be a five-day protest, but which escalated into a violent stand-off between protestors and police resulting in three people being shot dead, several buildings razed, and many motorists under threat or direct attack as protestors burned vehicles, damaged tyres and imposed exorbitant toll fees for passage through the embattled village that forms a gateway to other mining villages deeper in the hinterland.
Webster, Clinton Urling of the Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Carvil Duncan of the Guyana Labour Union on Monday evening spoke of the impact and consequences of the protest action on the programme titled ‘Issues in the news’ on the National Communications Network.
“There is a lot of potential investment in mining, a lot of it will require a route through Linden to access mines… as it is the most economic way to transport equipment…a problem in this nature is reflected on the stock exchange of USA and Canada so immediately it begins to impact investment in Guyana,” Webster said.
He also explained that the current situation in Linden is negatively affecting the country’s image, as those overseas will not localise but rather nationalise the situation.
The PSC chairman added that the situation will have terrible repercussions, and unfortunately those will suffer are Lindeners, especially those who do not have the capacity to absorb the shock.
Meanwhile, Urling explained that the situation in Linden, particularly the road blockages, has been a major issue as it resulted in disruptions to businesses in other regions such as 7, 8 and 9.
“Most businesses in the mining areas and Regions 7, 8 and 9 had to find alternative means which meant an increase in cost…some had to rely on air or water ways,” Urling lamented.
He added that, as a result of the situation, other businesses have started to lose some contracts as they have obligations to their international customers which they cannot meet.
Duncan said when the Linden situation started; the workers were not against paying the increased tariff on electricity bill but, asked for the introduction of the rates to be gradual.
“Persons were still going to work and doing their chores… after the shooting, the dimension changed… persons were then forced to stay home… after which they were being threatened not go to work and if they do, they will stand the consequences of it… as a result workers are at home, willing to work but a few persons are preventing them from going… on the other hand the employers are saying — we can no longer pay our workers because we are not doing any business,” Duncan said.
He added that workers are haemorrhaging because the food on the table is diminishing and there are no means to purchase additional food.
“If there is a means the cost is skyrocketing… the workers in Linden are hungry and want it to stop but for some reason or the other there are persons in the society that wants it to continue,” Duncan said.