The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) says it is very perturbed to learn that about 55 cane harvesters were reportedly, forcefully taken into GuySuCo’s cultivation against their will to work this morning (September 23, 2017).
According to GAWU, the cane harvesters from different villages that are working at the Skeldon Estate are usually “transported to the Baker Shop Dam order line where the number of workers are recorded by the relevant managerial personnel before they are finally transported to the worksite. Today, however, the lorry travelling from Crabwood Creek picking up workers along the way went straight into the cultivation though the workers kept demanding that the chauffeur stop at the order line as is customary.”
GAWU detailed further that “Seven of the workers, we understand, disembarked from the moving lorry at the order line, at their own risk, and a further six (6) walked out from the cultivation where they were taken. This is, in our view, a most improper act if not a criminal one. It also speaks to the low levels that the GuySuCo has descended and harks back to a time of forced labour, a time we of the GAWU felt was condemned to the history books.”
Moreover, the Union says “it is the first time as an independent state that we recall that workers have been taken against their will to work and, in our view, violates their inalienable constitutional right to strike and right to work.”
This disclosure comes on the heels of the third consecutive day of protest action taken by cane harvesters of the Skeldon Estate.
The workers, according to the Union, are most upset by the sudden and unannounced withdrawal of a long-standing practice whereby they are paid their extra payments proportionate to the task they would have completed.
The workers related to their Union that “for as long as they can recall this has been the system employed at Skeldon Estate and it has served the workers and the estate well.”
GAWU said it is indeed saddening that so soon after the commencement of the crop, workers are forced to take strike action to defend their rights and conditions.
“If it were the case that the Corporation had wished to change the practice at Skeldon, certainly it could have engaged the Union and the workers in discussions to reach an amicable solution in the nine (9) months the estate was not operating.”
GAWU says it’s calling on GuySuCo to revert to the status quo and to commence engagements with the Union and the workers to reach an amicable solution.