The Switzerland-based International Union of Food (IUF) is threatening to take action if Government fails to halt all plans to close the Wales Sugar Estate.
The Union, of which the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) are affiliates, wrote Agriculture Minister Noel Holder in this regard.
The Union urged the Guyana Government to “immediately halt plans to close the Wales Sugar estate,” while insisting that the Government, “as a matter of urgency enter into full and good faith negotiations with GAWU and NAACIE to find a just solution which will maintain the estate and ensure employment.”
The Union said that it was with shock and disbelief that it received the plans of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to close the estate at the end of the year, especially with the absence of a socio-economic study.
The Union said that it has been working with the two local Unions for many years to improve the living and working conditions of workers in the sugar sector. It reminded of the dire impact the closure would have on the lives of the 1700 persons employed at Wales and their families.
“Sugar has historically played an important role in Guyana. It has been a crucial source of rural employment. Workers on the estate and the families who depend on them will surely be pushed into poverty by this cruel closure,” the Union stated.
As such, it warned that it will be monitoring the situation closely and is fully prepared to take further action to assist workers in the local sugar industry.
The IUF had previously noted that it alerted its affiliates worldwide about the situation and called on them to support Guyana’s sugar workers in their time of need.
The IUF is the global trade union federation representing workers throughout the food chain. It comprises 416 affiliated unions, including GAWU and NAACIE, in 126 countries.
The Government has been under severe pressure to reverse its decision to close the Wales Sugar Estate at the end of the second crop of this year, plunging many of the workers there into a possible state of unemployment.
The Government in justifying its decision to close the factory, claimed it was as a result of the estate not being financially viable and promised that no jobs will be lost. But already, over 50 employees from Wales were sent packing.
The Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), several independent commentators, along with trade unions and rights groups, have all called on the Government to halt the closure plans and hold consultations with the workers affected. (Guyana Times)