Callous decision to fire thousands of sugar workers will leave thousands more affected- PPP

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The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has called out and condemned Government over the ongoing mass termination of sugar workers from the Skeldon, Enmore and Rose Hall Estates with the amount of workers now fired totaling almost 4,000.

File photo: The Skeldon Sugar Factory

According to the party “the firing of the sugar workers comes less than a month after the Coalition Government assured that the closure of estates, including Rose Hall and Enmore, will not be done in 2017. The Coalition government also assured that it would have considered the ‘best interests of sugar workers’ before decisions are made, in relation to the sugar sector’s future.”

In May 2017, Government announced plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).

Despite these moves, Minister of State Joseph Harmon at a post-Cabinet press briefing had stated that the closure of the sugar estates will be pushed back to 2018.

Harmon had said that the closure of the Rose Hall Estate in East Canje, Berbice will occur sometime next year. With regard to the Skeldon and Enmore Estates, he had said that the Special Purposes Unit (SPU) will have to conduct evaluations, surveys and inventory assessments before any steps are taken to actually sell.

On Wednesday it was reported that termination letters were issued to over 2000 workers at the Skeldon Estate. It is expected that more persons will receive letters during the course of the week. This move follows on the heels of similar notices given to Rose Hall Estate workers about one week ago.

It was also reported that hundreds of workers attached to the East Demerara Estate (EDE) located in Enmore, East Coast Demerara, have been issued termination letters. According to a Union representative, about 1500 plus workers attached to the EDE are going home.

See the PPP’s full statement below:

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) expresses deep concern and condemns the firing of almost 4,000 sugar workers from the Skeldon, Enmore and Rose Hall factories, including junior staff, supervisors and clerks.

While thousands are now without a job and are on the breadline, thousands more are indirectly affected by this callous decision.

The firing of the sugar workers comes less than a month after the Coalition Government assured that the closure of estates, including Rose Hall and Enmore, will not be done in 2017. The Coalition government also assured that it would have considered the ‘best interests of sugar workers’ before decisions are made, in relation to the sugar sector’s future.

The PPP also notes the duplicitous comments by Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who claimed that he was surprised at news of the firings, but when pressed, admitted that there was knowledge about the move at a government level, since the Ministry of Agriculture is part of government.

The PPP calls on the APNU+AFC Coalition government to take immediate measures to address the plight of sugar workers.

The PPP rejects the government’s arguments about available fiscal space to continue support for the sugar industry, making the decision to fire thousands of sugar workers a political one.

The Party calls on all sugar workers to remain vigilant ahead of the struggle to reverse these heartless decisions, which are discriminatory and cannot be supported by any rational thinking or evidence-based assessment.

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