Your Eyewitness finds it quite amazing the PNC-led Guyana Government can casually announce (you think those four Guysuco managers at the “head table were anything but the fall guys?) they’ll reduce the corporation’s workforce from 17,000 to 6000 in a couple of years – and there are no riots in the streets of this country. Maybe the workers were happy to hear they’re not being “fired”, they’re being made “redundant”?
What’s going on? We’re talking about 10,000 X 5 = 50,000 men, women and children losing their jobs just like that, and it doesn’t bother anyone? What about all those well-dressed and well-heeled folks who came out in droves at the INJUSTICE of the City Council to foist parking meters on Georgetown. Sure that’ll take a bite out of 3000 pockets daily. But what about the 10,000 workers who’ll have NOTHING to put in their pockets for the rest of their lives?? Don’t they bleed also?
But, dear reader, your Eyewitness can hear you murmur, “What about that ‘Alternative Livelihoods Programme’ the Guysuco PRO Audreyanna Thomas touted?” Didn’t she promise this programme “will equip the targeted workers with the requisite skills and knowledge needed to exist outside of the sugar industry”? So dear reader, let’s look a bit closer at the ALP – which the good lady says has three components.
The first component is for Guysuco to “contract out” some services to the “redundant workers”. Something similar, of course, has been tried in Guyana once before. After the abolition of slavery, the workers formed themselves into gangs that would “sell” their labour to the plantations. These fellas soon decided they weren’t going to work for what was essentially below slave wages, and showed up only when they needed some cash.
Your Eyewitness thinks that just like how the planters of yore didn’t like the uncertainty of that labour source, that’s why they’re insisting on labour on a “contractual” basis. This also had been tried before – it was called “indentureship”. These workers had absolutely no sources of livelihood because that was destroyed the by government in their homelands. With death staring them in the face, they sold themselves into what was involuntary servitude. So the Government’s first option is to bring back indentureship to save the (reduced) sugar industry!!
Well, the government has done their part to ensure the push factor for indentureship’s been fulfilled. With the death of all but one of the “six curses” the “redundant” workers have nowhere to go. It’s a matter of survival – even if like their predecessors, they have to accept wages even the freed slaves wouldn’t accept.
Happy days are here again – for Guysuco, of course!
The second component of the ‘Alternative Livelihoods Programme’ is “skills” training. The government’s already unfurled this component on Wales and Enmore Estates where 1700 workers have been made “redundant” (Wales) and another 2000 will experience redundancy after Christmas at Enmore. The Guysuco PRO was proud to report that from this pool of 3700 redundancies (not people, “redundancies”) ONE HUNDRED has accepted retraining as “sewing, cosmetology, caring for the elderly, catering, masonry, carpentry, plumbing, mechanical and electrical works, small business management and business proposals, refrigeration, air conditioning and computer repairs, project management and Information and Communication Technology (ICT)”!!
That there are just about 6 persons for each skill set illustrates the reality of this “option”: there are actually NO jobs in an economy that’s on life support…and the redundant workers know they’ll just be spinning wheels and twiddling their thumbs!
Folks who actually worked for a living (theirs) don’t have time to waste.
The last option – which was thrown in as an afterthought – is to lease lands to the redundant workers for farming. And this “option” is the most cruel hoax of all. Redundant workers would lease lands to produce what?
The government gone mute about the crops they claimed to’ve identified and found foreign markets for.
No land has been leased.