Govt ‘poorly handled’ Wales estate closure – says veteran trade unionist

15

Veteran trade unionist, Lincoln Lewis believes the APNU/AFC government has “handled poorly” the issue of the closure of the Wales sugar estate on the West Bank of Demerara which has resulted in hundreds of workers being left on the breadline.
“The manner in which the announcement of the Wales proposed closure was made has contributed to polarisation in the society and this will deepen and widen if a process is not arrived at to bring stakeholders to the decision-making table,” Lewis said in a statement today.
According to him, doing this is not only consistent with the rule of law but would also prevent a very serious issue from further becoming a political football by the self-serving and pushing this nation into camps on a matter that should be a unifier.
Lewis, who is the General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), alluded to the fact that social cohesion is vital to this nation’s development, and said it is time the “government not only talk the talk but walk the walk”. “From the outset the Wales estate issue has been handled poorly,” he declared.
“GuySuCo is a state entity and any decision taken on this company must be arrived at after careful consideration that would lead to prudent decision-making by stakeholders. In the meantime the National Assembly, the nation’s highest decision-making forum, needs to convene and discuss the Commission of Inquiry Report which can give guidance to the decisions that ought to be made about the industry,” Lewis stated.

Veteran trade unionist, Lincoln Lewis
Veteran trade unionist, Lincoln Lewis

He noted that this nation has spent millions on this commission and its report cannot be allowed to gather dust like others. This is even more important given the precarious nature of the industry, its drag on the economy, and the socio-economic impact/consequences on workers/citizens.
“The Wales issue borders on national interest. The price of sugar is not determined by us and it is for this reason the stakeholders are called upon to constructively engage, with a view of determining what is best for the workers/citizens in Region Three. Wales is located in Region Three. This Region is won by the PPP. Since the closure of the estate will impact on a number of workers/citizens and communities it requires the involvement of the affected stakeholders and central government working towards alternative programme to cushion the impact that will be created,” the veteran Trade Unionist pointed out.
“This means that the Regional Democratic Council, the trade unions representing the workers, the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils in the region, central government, cane farmers, and the PPP need to meet and deliberate,” he said.
He noted that when one looks at the stated configuration “what is not seen is a winner-take-all system”.
Lewis said what is seen is a platform to realise inclusionary democracy as prescribed by the Constitution in Article 13 which the President of Guyana commits to uphold and has consistently been calling for. This article which is the nation’s Principal Political Objective very clearly states that when it comes to the management and decision-making processes of the State, individuals and groups are required to be involved on matters that impact their well-being.
On this noted he alluded to the fact that Minister of State Joe Harmon is on record saying the government has a plan for the workers who will be affected by the closure. “Harmon and Noel Holder, Minister of Agriculture are called on to rethink this position. Consistent with Article 13 there cannot be a plan for any community without the involvement of the people and their representatives,” Lewis said, adding that the rule of law must be respected at all times.
CLOSURE NOT RECOMMENDED
Meanwhile, another veteran trade unionist, Komal Chan, is strongly of the view that the decision to close the Wales sugar estate flouts a fundamental and important recommendation of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Commission of Inquiry (CoI) report.

Head of GAWU, Komal Chan
Head of GAWU, Komal Chan

Chan, who is Head of the Guyana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), pointed out that on page 30 of Volume One of the Report, it stated: “The COI does not recommend the closure of the any estate at this time.”
He pointed out that government ignored the recommendations made in the COI report by moving ahead with the closure of the Wales Sugar Estate.

According to the COI Report, two commissioners had suggested the closure of the GuySuCo estates. However, the eight other commissioners had advised against it, noting that it would result in dire consequences for the sugar workers particularly at this time during the economic crisis in the country.

A MISTAKE?
Former Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy also holds strong to his view that the decision to close the Wales sugar estate is “a mistake” on the part of the APNU+AFC government which will have a devastating impact.

He told INews last week that this decision by the present Administration demonstrates the coalition government’s “ill intent” towards sugar workers and the industry as he contended that there is no economic basis for closing the Wales estate, located on the West Bank of Demerara.

Former Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy
Former Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy

As a result of this course of action, he said there will be an adverse effect on not only the country’s already flailing sugar industry and Guyana’s economy but more importantly on the livelihoods of people living in Region Three.
“The intended closure of the Wales Sugar Factory is one that APNU+AFC was determined to do from the inception and is not merely because of any recommendation from the COI. It is in fact the beginning of the closure of the sugar industry that several members of APNU+AFC had proposed prior to the May 2015 election in Guyana.
Even though leaders like Moses Nagamootoo and David Granger were forced to say that they will not close the industry, clearly those pre-elections assurances were merely meant to disguise their true intention,” the former Agriculture Minister posited.

15 COMMENTS

  1. R..your fat US massa said he saw everything on election day from gong to gong but how come he didnt see one fake sop?? you that gullible ?? and it was not PPP that made that claim..check see who did before you respond with long winded crap..take it to the court– its in the court of the majority public opinion..

  2. Justinwill i may agree with you that the previous govt made mistakes .To err is human but on the contrary what the current govt is doing is extreamly unacceptable. Only eight months and almost 90 percent of it supporters are withdrawn. Where is guyana heading ? People wanted a change i agree but for the better not worst.Many regretted thier decision to try a new govt you can hear them crying on top of their voices ‘wishing they can replace the ppp as thou u can walk to the dumster and pick up what you taught you could have done without. Both people of indian and black decents are unhappy.Have a heart no one want their children to live in poverty. This is modern time. I have many afro guyanese friends and neighbours of outstanding quality .

  3. don’t you think it takes leader to lead and heal a nation and if you can come back to me and say this government is leading well then I am in the wilderness

  4. DK- I can understand your frustration and venom for the current government. If you and others think it is an illegal government installed by the US, then take your case to court and let the CJ give his ruling. I would not say it is neither an illegal or legal government, (I was not there when the votes were counted, were you?) However, we have a court system and you and others that think otherwise should lawyer-up and take it to the courts. If not put it to bed.

    Under the ruling of the former government there were a lot of wrong doings that folks like you fail to remember and highlight. The Marriott deal that was so wrong using taxpayers money to build a hotel that is running at a loss. Roger Khan getting government permission to purchase computer telephonic surveillance equipment from a Spy Shop in Fort Lauderdale. Personnel from the spy shop testified by producing document signed by then Home Affairs Minister to acquire the equipment.
    Ed Ahmad a convicted felon testified in Federal Court in the US that he loaned money in return for political favours from the previous government. And I can list more wrong doings.

    So in your quest to point fingers at the sitting government, you should take a look at what the previous regime did and be careful what you say because the previous government did and condone a lot of illegal things

    What is needed is UNITY and desist the finger pointing. We may not like others but, you have to agree to disagree but be conscious of what you are peddling because the government you are backing was terrible and you know it.

  5. PUTTIN, Jagdeo made positive suggestions, on how the Wales estate could be saved. You know what those PNCites did? Check all the online Guyana news sites: Demerara Waves, Stabroek News, Chronicle and yes, even INEWS . He was called the most disgusting names, ridiculed, cussed down from head to toe. They did this to the man who put Guyana on the world map again not for the Jones Town incident but for rapid economic development in a short span of time. Criticisms go to where they are deserve and this PNC led administration can be praised for looking after the needs of its own supporters at Linden. LET THERE BE LIGHT. But for those at Bath Settlement: THOU SHALL FOREVER LIVE IN DARKNESS

  6. All these talks and boring comments, Can we for the love of ourselves and our country try posting positive thing that we can move forward. Posting all they negative comment that is of no good, let us join together in unity and make Guyana a better place. At the end of the day all problems we face today will become history tomorrow,

  7. The practice of acting without thinking of the consequences has returned in full force . This is typical of the PNC fools since the days of Burnham when they disbanded the railway system, something that benefitted so many people at so little cost. Likewise closing a sugar estate even given the current circumstances us a foolhardy move. Why don’t they get a loan and build a new, modern factory and repair the infrastructure and build up instead of breaking down like the PNC and now the soup-drinkers from AFC are so quick to do.

  8. Is this the way this administration will “open jobs”? I wont even say that they broke their promises. Now Granger is pardoning 60 persons a year plus he just put hundreds ofsugar workers on the streets…so let me guess he is increasing crime and unemployment in the country because of his personal vendetta? Its pointless!! People of this nation pay attention to the change that was voted for by you.

  9. ‘poorly handled’ ? No! Not at all! That was a deliberate strategy by this uncaring administration, targeting PPP strongholds. It will backfire. This PNC led administration wants to destroy the PPP. They started the ”forensic audits”. They hauled in high profile members for questioning at the police station or at their homes. That’s their strategy. They accused-not made allegations- of theft of state resources, not a strand of evidence, and called out publicly for former ministers to be jailed. Burnham did that and sent a number of senior PPP officials including Cheddi and Janet Jagan to SIBLEY HALL-the Mazaruni prisons. The PPP prevailed and became stronger. The PPP is a grassroot party, a party of the working class. They cannot destroy that party. On the contrary, the PPP will rebound and get STRONGER and STRONGER

  10. Google and read this link PNC people..You think massa loves you because they installed you to rule? Think again PNC people that’s if you have the capacity to think on your own.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/windsor-spitfires-collect-40-000-water-bottles-to-help-residents-of-flint-mich/article28335399/

    Does PNC rulers think massa installed them to do to Indians and others exactly what massa does to blacks in America?

    Govt ‘poorly handled’ Wales estate closure – says veteran trade unionist.
    This so called veteran should call it as he sees it “illegal US installed government” before he starts to pronounce.
    You will hear many of these people talking but most Guyanese knows its only white wash like wishy washy to appease a certain section of the pop;ulation..
    Will they take to the streets when PNC continue their wrong doings??
    Hell no they wont.

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.