Caribbean News Round-up

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Sad Christmas for children

Merry-Christmas-pictures-free[Trinidad Express] – “Christmas would be a sad time for the children.”

The lament is that of traditional mas designer/masquerader Tracey Sankar-Charleau who reflected yesterday on Christmas without her slain husband Cpl Shervaun Charleau,

Sankar-Charleau also said her late husband, a special forces soldier with 16 years service, was “very quiet and very private” and had a number of female friends.

 

Appleton to send home 100 workers

Appleton-estate1[Jamaica Observer] – APPLETON Estate in St Elizabeth is to send home 100 workers, or roughly 30 per cent of its workforce, according to reports from the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU).

In addition, deputy island supervisor of the BITU, Hanif Brown, says that the positions of more than 900 sugar workers islandwide have been made redundant since August of this year.

“My check between Golden Grove, Everglades and Appleton amount to over 900 persons being made redundant between August and November,” Brown told the Jamaica Observer.

Brown said that Appleton claimed they lost $2 billion last year in operations and are now looking to restructure. He added that the situation was also worsened by a cut in prices on the world market.

“This doesn’t necessarily mean the workers contributed to the loss, and they (Appleton) have met with the unions and discussed the matter,” Brown stated.

He said the workers were served their letters informing them of the situation on Friday. Brown added that the BITU had since met with the workers and looked at the calculations and so the workers are now looking to receive their packages.

Brown also noted that of the approximately 105 positions at Appleton that were being made redundant, about 12 of them were vacant.

“However, they have not been as overarching as Golden Grove, which has already made 555 positions redundant and another 42 will be made redundant this month as a continuation of their reconstructing efforts,” Brown said. He highlighted that the majority of these workers were from the agriculture department which had been outsourced.

The BITU representative said there was even more bad news as, at the Everglades Farm Limited, another 150 positions have been made redundant and the business will not be in operation this year. He added that the BITU will be meeting with them next week.

Brown also stated that the redundancies would affect the sugar industry workers’ pension scheme.

He said the pension scheme for sugar workers was originally miniscule, about $7,500 a year, but the industry entered an agreement with Guardian Life where workers could contribute up to 18 per cent of their salary. 

The BITU, according to Brown, had also managed to get the employers to contribute up to two per cent under the scheme.

However, Brown explained that all may not be lost for the workers, as “the good thing about the scheme is that it’s portable and so persons will still be able to participate in it”.

He also expressed concern that the majority of the displaced workers were union members, and so the union would lose constitution in the industry and would have to “force themselves back in”.

Brown said that despite the current problems in the sugar cane industry and the union quickly losing its membership, they “still have to try to secure the interest of the workers and ensure they get their required compensation.”

 

WICB Director Quits

mahabir[CMC] – A director on the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has resigned with immediate effect accusing the Antigua based organisation of unprofessionalism, poor business methods and being responsible for a spate of public disputes with players.

Baldath Mahabir, one of Trinidad and Tobago’s Directors on the WICB, also says he is quitting the post in light of the growing wave of public criticism targeted at the WICB, headed by Jamaican businessman Dave Cameron.

Mahabir is reported to have sent his resignation letter to the board in which he linked ‘anti’ WICB sentiments to Prime Ministers, former players, journalists, educators and fans.

“However, in the recent past, this incarnation of the WICB has had to endure even more verbal onslaughts than some of its predecessors,” said Mahabir in his resignation letter, published by the Trinidad Guardian.

“The events that have attracted these negative outpourings have not always been the sole responsibility of the WICB, but the onus of cleaning up after the mess, falls squarely on its burdened and at times under resourced shoulders. And this the organisation must understand”.

Mahabir lost his bid to become vice president of the WICB after he was defeated by incumbent Emmanual Nanton earlier this year.

Brazil, land of water, goes thirsty

 Part-MVD-Mvd6723059-1-1-0[AFP] – The sign — “risk of drowning” — outside one of Rio de Janeiro’s freshwater reservoirs looks like a joke: there’s no water here left to drown in.

Instead, the Saracuruna reservoir near Duque de Caxias, outside Rio, is an expanse of sand, mud and vegetation. Four stray dogs scamper and cattle come to drink from a stream still running through the middle.

“It’s been a long time since there was any water here,” said a security guard walking up the dry bed to order AFP journalists away on Friday.

The scene at Saracuruna is repeated across much of eastern Brazil between Rio and the megacity of Sao Paulo, with reservoirs and rivers running dry and authorities scrambling to avoid having to impose rationing.

Rio de Janeiro state’s environmental department blames “the worst drought in 85 years” for the crisis, while independent activists say decades of bad policy is equally culpable.

Although the southern tropical rainy season is just beginning, scientists fear that the El Nino weather phenomenon active this year may disrupt that hoped for relief from the sky, leaving tens of millions of people at risk.

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