Cane cutters attached to the Uitvlugt Sugar Estate, West Coast Demerara (WCD), are in an uproar over the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s decision to restrict them from earning what they described as a “fair weekly income”.
According to Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), a number of cane cutters staged a picketing exercise over the weekend to call on the estate’s management to correct the issue.
The union is contending that during last week (ending April 13, 2019), the cane cutters said that they were only provided with three days of work.
According to the union, such reduced work in the cropping period is unusual since maximum efforts would usually be pursued to ensure the timely harvesting of canes. “The situation at Uitvlugt is even more unusual as the factory is generally operating normally and, therefore, it appears there was no reason to limit work to the cane cutters in the first place,” the union said.
However, although the cane cutters received reduced work assignments during last week, the estate still managed to realise its weekly production target.
“The workers shared that the achievement of the target is linked to, what appears, preference given to the processing of farmers’ canes. The workers lamented that the situation, which apart from denying them work, is causing the estate canes to become older, a situation that can well lend to reduced cane productivity. Usually, the corporation would plan its harvesting programme in such a way to ensure that there is balanced harvesting of farmers’ and estate canes,” GAWU stated.
Inews was told that the affected workers are “most dismayed by the apparent actions of the estate” which has served to curtail their earnings.
“The cane cutters shared that they had to contend with a longer than usual out-of-crop period which was extended by an additional week and, at this time, they are eager to work recognising they have many of life’s obligations to meet. They shared that though the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has pointed to workers’ earnings being enhanced by incentives, the denial of work to them precludes the opportunity from earning the very incentives the corporation has touted,” the union stated.
GAWU said that on April 12 a letter was dispatched to GuySuCo’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Harold Davis, about the prevailing situation and urged that the workers be offered suitable, adequate work.
According to GAWU, it has opined that such a situation is in the interest of both the workers and GuySuCo.
“Indeed, the circumstances of last week have left a most bitter taste in the mouths of the workers who, while have demonstrated their willingness to work, have had their best of intentions sapped for unknown reason/s. The union, at this time, looks forward to a normal situation being restored at Uitvlugt.”
Efforts to contract the management of GuySuCo for a comment on the matter proved futile.