By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Sugar workers from all estates across Guyana downed tools on Wednesday (December 11) in protest against news that they will not receive any Annual Production Incentive (API) this year.
No cane was produced for the day as a result of the shutdown and according to a Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) representative, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has induced the strike.
According to GAWU’s Head Komal Chand, the union had written to Guysuco on November 18, asking that they meet to discuss the annual payout that has been constantly forthcoming over the years. He said Guysuco never responded despite several calls from the Union.
Chand told iNews that the two parties however decided to meet on December 10 where Guysuco announced that it could not afford to pay any API this year because of its production which fell short of meeting its target.
Meanwhile, a release from the Corporation stated that on November 18 GAWU submitted a claim for an Annual Production bonus of 6.80 day’s pay for a production of 201,000 tonnes sugar, or alternatively 29,500 tonnes per day pay.
The statement further added that at the meeting on December 10 the Corporation suggested to the Union that it should review its original demand to facilitate further dialogue on the matter to which the General Secretary of the Union Seepaul Narine responded that the union is ‘flexible’.
It was however, agreed that both parties would meet again on Friday (December 13) at the Union’s office to continue discussions.
It appears that the information was fed back to workers who decided to engage in a one day strike against Guysuco’s proposal. According to Chand workers will resume duty on Thursday (December 12) while they await the outcome of Friday’s meeting.
In this regard, Guysuco registered its disappointment in the Union to call a strike when there was an agreement to meet and further negotiate demands.
Chand maintains that regardless of what Guysuco’s production amount to for 2013 workers must be paid some amount of API.
This morning there were approximately 960 punts with 5,300 tonnes of cane waiting to be processed which would have seen 375 tonnes of sugar being produced. There were also 12,500 tonnes of cane waiting to be harvested.
Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy is encouraging to work in good faith when Friday’s meeting is convened He says Guysuco must ensure workers are treated fairly while begging workers to also give the process of negotiation time to conclude.