Mr. Nadir: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to start where the last speaker ended, when he said the possibilities if we can have a Board which is representative of the Labour Movement. I would make bold to say without consulting with our Members of Parliament on this side of the House, if he is prepared now to amend this motion to ensure that the eight members who come from Labour will comprise four nominees from FITUG and four nominees from the TUC, I am sure we are on the road to whatever this motion is covering – right now. Amend it... [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker, we have to go back to these bylaws and go back...
Mr. Speaker: One second Mr. Nadir. Mr. T. Williams, you have enviable position of speaking last on the motion so if there is anything that you need to clarify, to add or to amend, you can do so because you have all the time in the world after all the speaker have spoken and made their presentations to reply. Go ahead Mr. Nadir.
Mr. T. Williams: Thank you.
Mr. Nadir: So Mr. Speaker this is not about upmanship or brinkmanship. The leadership of the Guyana Trades Union Congress are the ones that ended the subvention. The GTUC leadership ended the subvention and there was no want of trying. I agree with the Honourable last speaker, that all the plans that which we had in place – glorious plans – all the potentials that the Critchlow Labour College had to restore itself as a primary labour institution in the country and also a primary institution to ensure that second chancers can get an academic access to the University of Guyana – all of that could have been restored. I was waiting for the last speaker, the Honourable Member, to say why he left. Not about the glorious plans and not about citing this ... [Interruption] Not about citing this in the Guyana Public Service Union’s (GPSU) strikes of 1999 and what happened at the John Fernandes Co. Ltd., let him deal with what he was part of – living history.
Do you know what happened, Mr. Speaker? The last speaker resigned himself. At a particular interview he gave to one media house, he said, “I left because the place was being run like a cake shop.”
Mr. Speaker: Dr. Roopnarine, now is the right time to object or to clarify if that statement is not so.
Mr. Nadir: Yes.
Ms. Teixeira: It was never corrected.
Mr. Nadir: Mr. Speaker, it was being run like a cake shop, but that was not the real story about the departure of that...
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Nadir, is that a direct quote or are you paraphrasing?
Mr. Nadir: It is a direct quote.
Mr. Speaker: I see.
Mr. Nadir: “Cake shop” was used. That was not the real story. There was one particular executive on the board who left Trinidad and Tobago and flew over here to fire him. Yes, to fire him. We want to commend the Hon. Member, Dr. Roopnarine, for all of the efforts he put in to try to get consensus among Government, the two warring factions of labour and also academia because, in credit to him, all those back audited statements he is talking about he did.
Mr. Speaker: ‘Hon. Member’, not ‘he’, ‘The Hon. Doctor’.
Mr. Nadir: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Hon. Dr. Roopnarine, the Hon. Member, spent a lot of time and he always has at heart what is best... always. He is on a particular side now and he is ‘straight-jacketed’ because he is constrained to really talk the full truth. He is constrained right now to really speak the full truth. [Ms. Ally: Why is he constrained?] Because you are ‘straight-jacketing’ him; the Hon. Member Ms. Ally is ‘straight-jacketing’ him. He cannot speak freely. The Hon. Member put a lot of effort into bringing... He wrote to the Office of the President and the Minister of Education and the Ministry of Education, which is the agency under which the subvention comes. I was asked by the Office of the President to intervene since they had two opposing... ‘Let us have Labour intervene.’
By then the Hon. Member had resigned but, Sir... We have notes here signed off that I can provide to the House. The General Secretary of the TUC, Mr. Lincoln Lewis, wrote to the Ethnic Relations Commission and asked the Ethnic Relations Commission to also intervene and so on 9th January, 2009, we had a meeting that was chaired by the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) and the Minister of Labour was asked by the ERC to attend. Who were present at that meeting? Manzoor Nadir, Minister of Labour, Mohamed Akeel... This happened at 9.10 a.m. on the 9th January, 2009. [Ms. Ally: Mr. Nadir, you were not a good Labour Minister.] It does not matter. Whether I was good or bad this is history speaking to us. The people will judge who was good or bad and if my relative on the other side, the Hon. Member, says that I was bad I would bow to her. ...Bishop Juan Edghill, Chairman of the ERC, Ms. Cheryl Sampson – a Former Member of the People’s National Congress in this House – Ms. Christine King, Mr. Mr. Carville Duncan, Colonel Godwin McPherson, Mr. Ian Andrews, Vice President of the Guyana Trade Union Congress, Ms. Gillian Burton, President of the Guyana Trade Union Congress, and Mr. Clifford Hackett representing the unpaid lecturers of the two collages – Critchlow Labour Collage, Georgetown, and the Linden Branch.
Look at that representation, at the highest level of the Guyana Trade Union Congress. The President and Vice President of the GTUC, the Chief Labour Officer and the Minister of Labour, the Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission and Members of the ERC sitting down to try to find a way forward; exactly what the Hon. Member Dr. Roopnarine just said, representative of the Labour Movement because the Hon. Minister Dr. Nanda Gopaul said that we have to have members on the board representative of labour, not dominated by one of the smaller Unions in labour but representative of labour and this was the crux of the matter and we know that there is one strong person in the GTUC and if that person does not have that persons’ way it is the highway for everyone else. The subvention issue... I want to say to the Hon. Member, Mr. Trevor Williams, that we understand the politics that the AFC is playing with this matter; we understand it. This, for the AFC, in my view, is not about accessing opportunities for young people because today those opportunities abound many time fold. The Critchlow Labour Collage found, in its heyday, providing this academic training when we took over all of the schools and we wanted to control the minds of people, especially our young people. We wanted to channel them and programme them and so when the Critchlow Labour Collage...
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Nadir, stand. Did you at any time benefit or where you in any school that was nationalised, if you want to call it that? Was your mind controlled?
Mr. Nadir: Mr. Speaker, there is no secret...
Mr. Speaker: My mind was never controlled by anyone I came through I went... I hope that it did not happen to you.
Mr. Nadir: I have read some of the criticisms then of the programmes officered at Critchlow Labour Collage and one of the concerns was that it was a backdoor way of people who could not qualify by getting the requisite General Certificate of Education (GCE), at that time, not CXC but the General Certificate of Education, to get into the University of Guyana. I throw that behind because...
Mr. Speaker: I am saying that cannot be valid and I would not allow it because there are Members of this House... Dr. Gopaul who said that he was a product, Mr. Williams, the Hon. Robert Montgomery Persaud, MBA... That could not be true and to pursue it would mean that you would impugn the character of Members of this House and I cannot allow that.
Mr. Nadir: Mr. Speaker, I have heard your rulings many times when persons said ‘they have learnt’ and they ‘understood this to have been said’ and that is the language I am using and I said that it was said at that time and it was said at that time... [Mr. Trotman: Where is the quotation?] Do you want Dr. Roopnarine’s quotation? I will give it to you. I said that I was about to throw that away because even if it served one person to get a good education it would have served its purpose and we know the glorious pass of the Critchlow Labour Collage that the Hon. Member, Mr. Trevor Williams, spoke about is undeniable. It is undeniable. The tragedy is that had been destroyed by the stubbornness of some people and the undemocratic nature of appointing the board of directors of the Critchlow Labour Collage.
We always said when we looked at this issue – I am speaking from inside the Government – that the issue here is governance; governance, Mr. Speaker, the list of persons who obtain salaries from the Critchlow Labour Collage had nothing to do with imparting education to the people. They were phantom people on the payroll. When we convened under the chairmanship of the ERC by March, 2009, the Ministry of Labour had received from the lecturers, at two campuses, salaries owing to the staff – the Georgetown campus-$3.8 million and the Linden campus-$2 million, a total of $5.8 million being owed. For the third campus – this is very instructive – the Berbice campus, no salary was owed. Do you know why?
The Berbice campus controlled its own chequebook and it was able to pay all of the staff on time from the fees which it collected from the students but the Linden campus and the Georgetown campus went into a special account controlled by a few persons. When Mr. Godwin McPherson raised the issue and started making the concerns and said ‘let us move forward towards resolving these issues’ a padlock was placed on his office door and he said to the ERC and us that he never resigned as principal. When we went to the registrar of companies the Collage is still yet to submit all of the requirements based on its incorporation and also based on its bylaws.
Names when the then President of the GTUC and the Vice President made some concessions in terms of trying to resolve the issue of the representativeness of labour, we were sent a memo from the then General Secretary of the TUC saying that we have appointed four new directors; not addressing the concerns of representing labour but they sent saying that they have appointed Professor Clive Thomas as Chairman, Mr. Christopher Ram – this was received on 9th March, 2009 – Dr. Aubrey Armstrong and Dr. Michael Scott as the four persons. that was the reform which the CLC brought to the table. That was what the General Secretary of the GTUC said and the Chairman of the GTUC sitting there and the Vice Chairman did not know anything about that letter. They were sitting there at the meeting and this was news to them. This is the issue of governance.
I mentioned the Berbice campus because of all of the machinations that have since GAWU went ahead and decided that they have to ensure the same issue that the Hon. Member Roopnarine mentioned just now, refocusing on labour education. GAWU went ahead went ahead out of its own money – not a cent from the Government – and spent $110 million and built its own labour collage; not a cent from Government. In the last four years over 1,100 persons have passed through labour training programmes at GAWU Labour Collage; over 1,100 persons with not a cent from the Government of Guyana. Just like the Berbice campus of the Critchlow Labour Collage...
Why can the Guyana Trade Union Congress, which claims to be the umbrella body for all labour, not double what GAWU could do, build a $200 million campus by itself and train 2,000 persons in 5 years? There is much more in this mortar than the pestle, much more. It is not this easy. We would like to see as many opportunities opening up for all of the people of this country and while Critchlow offered another opportunity for persons to get into the University of Guyana and do well the Government said that we should not cut that out. That is why today one can write an exam and get into the University of Guyana. I have known hundreds of persons who do not have the requisite CXC or GCE who are writing those exams and getting into the University of Guyana. It is not the only opportunity, Sir.
There are many other opportunities to enhance your academics to get into the University of Guyana. The University of Guyana has accredited programmes through Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED_. There are programmes through IPED that, once you pass, you can qualify to get into the university of Guyana and, of course, Mr. Speaker, one has the Institute of Distant and Continuing Education (IDCE). In addition to what is given by subvention by this Parliament, the IDCE the University of Guyana also contributed $60 million towards that programme all across the country. I do not have a problem with it being replicated and duplicated and multiplied among many institutions but the institutions not only have to have the accountability but they also have to represent the wide cross section of stakeholders that they claim to be representing. They have to do that.
Opportunities and second chances for young people: We all know that less than five per cent of our people want to advance to tertiary education and many of them want to continue beyond secondary into skills training. I was just reading recently that it was March, 1949, in the Legislative Council when Dr. Jagan said that instead of us spending money to do some esoteric thing, which the Government at that time and the colony wanted to do, we should spend that money to establish the Guyana School of Agriculture and by 1953 Dr. Jagan was fighting for the establishment of a technical institute which was launched in 1963.
What we did, Mr. Speaker, which the PPP/C Government has done, is expand the opportunities that one does not only have GTI and the New Amsterdam and the Linden Technical Institute, one has the Upper Corentyne, one has Lenora, one has Essequibo and one also has Mahaicony. Not only that, the Hon. Minister of Labour through the board of industrial training said to us during the last budget that doubling of his budget will see over 3,000 young people getting an opportunity for a second chance. Outside of that we have young persons who are working and through their own industriousness are working to get themselves qualified so that they can go on to higher and higher education.
This thing is not just about restoring the subvention. The landscape has changed tremendously and opportunities abound everywhere, far and wide – Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) teaching in Annai, teaching all over the country. The opportunities for our young people here today abound. There is no young person who wants an opportunity at training that cannot access it through one of the many programmes which the Government has undertaken. I agree with the Hon. Dr. Roopnarine that we need to have labour education again being primary among workers. I was heartened when I saw the current principal of the Critchlow Labour Collage...
I do not know how many persons know that the current principal is the Former Member of Parliament Aubrey Norton. Yes, a good gentleman is the current... I think he has taken a leaf out of the book of the Hon. Dr. Rupert Roopnarine because he has just launched a programme. I think that he had about 60 persons signing up but do you know what the cost is? $60,000 to get into the University... That is a good start. A better initiative would be ensuring that the governance of the Critchlow Labour Collage not only be accountable for whatever is given by anybody, state or donor, but also that the board of directors is expanded to ensure that persons representative of labour serve on that board.
It is very hard for me to stand here, knowing all of the history and knowing the changes that have happened, and support a motion that does not give the full story and to listen to what I find to be purely politics playing in the House and it is not getting to where we ought to be in terms of representing the national interest properly.
We propose and we are urging an amendment. We are saying that if you are serious about the first start – we know that we are serious – let us amend this motion and, in particular, get those who are in control of the Critchlow Labour Collage today to ensure that there are four persons representing the one umbrella body and four representing the other umbrella body and let us get back Critchlow along the action plan that Dr. Rupert Roopnarine has outlined here. Thank you very much. [Applause]