Guyana: Labour Ministry shares concern on expected protest by Vigalstra Housing Cooperative Society Limited members

Guyana: Labour Ministry shares concern on expected protest by Vigalstra Housing Cooperative Society Limited members

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Georgetown, Guyana: The Ministry of Labour shared their concern on Vigalstra Housing Cooperative Society Limited members, who intend to protest at the Ministry on February 20, 2023. “It has been brought to the attention that Vigalstra Housing Cooperative Society Limited members intend to protest at the Ministry of Labour,” the Ministry stated through a social media post.

According to the reports, during at least the last five years, the Society has not held an election or been audited, nor have they held any general meetings. As a result, some members have complained to the Department of Cooperative Societies about the manner the Committee of Management governs the Society.

The Ministry has informed that on September 11, 2022, the department took action by sanctioning a meeting with the Committee of Management and its members, at which time the members voted out the Committee of Management. This act can be done pursuant to Section 22 1 of the Society Rules, which specifies that the supreme authority in the Society shall be the General Meeting of members. In addition, Section 22 ‘9’ (A) states that the General Meeting has the authority to elect, suspend, or remove members of the Committee, which was exercised. As a result, a Steering Committee was formed.

Following that, the department wrote to the Committee of Management, explaining the sequence of events and instructing them to turn over any documentation of society property to the Steering Committee. This would enable the Steering Committee to properly administer the Society’s operations until the Annual General Meeting, the Ministry of Labour claimed.

It added, “Roysdale A Ford contacted the department on behalf of his client, the Chairman and committee members of Vigalstra Housing Cooperative Society Limited, on October 21, 2022, in response to a letter dated October 13, 2022. According to him, the department is in violation of Regulation 16 of the Cooperative Societies Act, which specifies the conditions under which a Special General Meeting can be conducted.”

Furthermore, the labour ministry informed that as a result, Ford informed the department that if it continues to refer to the Chairman and Committee of Management as the Ex-Chairman and former Committee of Management. They will then initiate legal action against the department. Section 16 of the Cooperative Societies specifies that “provided that the Commissioner or a person authorised by him may at any time summon a special general meeting of the registered Society in such manner and at such time and place as he may prescribe. He may also direct what topics are covered at the conference. Such a meeting shall have all of the powers of a meeting called in accordance with the rules.”

The Ministry outlined that despite having received the Letter of Authorization confirming there is now a Steering Committee in place, the Society’s secretary wrote to the department to request an audit. The Management Committee refuses to acknowledge the Steering Committee, and they have filed complaints against it at least four times. On January 26, 2023, the Steering Committee filed a fixed date application against the Commissioner (department), with one of the orders sought to be that the Commissioner not appoint the audit and recognise the Steering Committee as the Committee of Management.

“Yet, the department is only interested in resolving this disagreement with Vigalstra Housing Cooperative Society Limited in a calm and timely manner. It hopes to hold a meeting with both sides (past management committee and steering committee) to identify a common approach,” it concluded.

The meeting, however, was mistakenly scheduled for February 23 2023, which is a National holiday, and as such, it will be rescheduled at a later date that will be announced to them.