Nearly two months after the High Court ordered that ex-Wales sugar workers be paid severance payments with interest; union representatives had to take legal action again to ensure that ex-Wales workers who took up employment at Uitvlugt received one month’s pay.
Ongoing matters connected to severance pay continued into this month with Justice Sandil Kissoon ordering the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to pay retrenched Wales cane harvesters who worked at the Uitvlugt Estate following the closure of Wales at the end of 2016, one month’s pay.
These workers were meant to be paid one month’s pay in lieu of notice as of November 30 with the Court further ordering that they be paid four per cent interest per annum up to December 5, 2018.
According to GAWU, the January 21, 2019 order states to GuySuCo: “If you fail to comply with the terms of this order, you will be held in contempt of court and may be liable to imprisonment or to have your assets confiscated”.
Though workers no longer employed have received their benefits; those who went to Uitvlugt received severance payments, but did not benefit from the one month’s pay, GAWU noted.
The workers along with their union have been saying all along that under the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA); they could not be compelled to travel 22 miles from their point of origin to take up employment at the Uitvlugt Estate, which was not the sentiment shared by GuySuCo and by extension the Government.
Under TESPA, an employer is obligated to sever the workers when it was unable to provide similar work within a 10 mile radius.
GAWU in a statement said it wonders if GuySuCo’s previous stance not to pay workers was shaped by the authorities giving guidance and instructions.
The Union says it is hoping for good judgment to prevail.