By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Contrary to reports by Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy that normalcy will be restored at the Skeldon Sugar Factory; the strike has instead spread to the Albion Sugar Factory.
The industrial action by workers is in solidarity with one of their colleagues – Steven Daniel – who was arbitrarily dismissed by the Estate Manager, Dave Kumar over an incident in the field between the two on Friday, September 19.
According to a source close to the Estate, the industrial action may even meet as far as the Rose Hall Canje Estate tomorrow, after the Estate Management failed to turn up to a meeting with the Guyana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) representatives.
The source noted that the Albion Estate has completely seized operations; however, some amount of grinding is being done at the Skeldon Estate.
The industrial action is not only affecting the industry and its contribution to the economy, but the Guyana Power & Light Inc. which has been forced to do frequent load shedding in Demerara and Berbice.
The workers were even more aggrieved after Kumar blatantly refused to implement a number of recommendations which included reinstating Daniel and apologizing.
The Estate Manager reportedly told workers on many occasions that he has the support of the Chief Executive Officer of GuySuCo and in a statement today, the Sugar Company demonstrated its support for Kumar and refuted allegations that he was intoxicated during the alleged altercation.
According to GuySuCo, “Contrary to the Union’s allegation, the Estate Manager in his usual night visits to the factory and mill dock met a group of workers that included one Steven Daniel who were malingering in the vicinity of the mill dock and cautioned them to report to their respective work stations. On being cautioned by the Manager, Daniel became abusive and was calmly advised by the Manager to heed his advice and report to his work station. Daniel subsequently retaliated and approached the Estate Manager in a hostile manner, and in the process struck the Manager in his face. The incident was witnessed by the Agriculture Manager and a Supernumerary Constable, all of whom testified that the Estate Manager was not intoxicated and nor was he aggressive and abusive to Daniel.”
The Corporation said Daniel’s behavior has been recognized as one that constitutes gross misconduct, and such behavior is treated with summary dismissal.
On the day in question, it is reported that the Estate Manager and two of his colleagues were reportedly on a drinking spree on Friday when at 23:30hrs, several workers were on a bridge at the Dock Mill supervising the offloading of cane.
It is alleged that the Manager told them to move from the bridge, however, all but Daniel responded almost immediately and this reportedly made the Manager angry.
The Manager is accused of verbally abusing the employee, who continued his work but was later informed by a security guard that he has to be escorted off the Estate.
iNews understands that after Daniel refused to leave the compound, the Estate Manager arrived and attempted to hit him. He then informed Daniel that he was fired.
Reports are that President of the GAWU, Komal Chand has indicated his willingness to resolve the matter as soon as possible.