Our Union was very disturbed to read Mr Abel Seetaram’s letter appearing in the May 20, 2017 Guyana Chronicle entitled “GAWU, PPP using schoolchildren during protest”. We see Mr Seetaram’s letter as an attack on people who are simply standing up and defending their livelihoods.
While Mr Seetaram choose seemingly to castigate the young man for taking part in the protest on May 16, 2017 he fails to mention, conveniently or otherwise, that the protest was spurred as a result of the harsh policies embraced by a Government of which he is foremost cheerleader. The participation of young students joining their parents, teachers and others serve to dramatize policies by this Government which will certainly affect their future. Their participation hopefully can bring about more effectiveness to the continuing heartless approach by this Government which are affecting working people and the poor country wide.
With respect to the sugar industry, we cannot ignore the fact that it is the Government which has taken on board and is promoting plans to miniaturise the industry. Certainly, they cannot escape blame for the difficulties which has emerged and are ahead for sugar workers and their families and the sugar-linked communities. Wales presently is a painful and glaring example.
We wish to advise Mr Seetaram, for his records, that prior to closure of Wales in 2016, the last estate that was closed was Diamond in the mid-1980’s. Between then and 2016, cane cultivation, on a smaller scale, continued to 2009 and many of the workers who were severed took up employment at Wales. Regarding LBI, when the factory was closed many workers were either transferred to the Enmore factory or took up employment in the LBI field workshop which remained operable until it was closed in 2016, despite undertakings by GuySuCo that this was not in their projections.
The GAWU is also charged by Mr Seetaram as only now raising its voice for the sugar workers. This is a most ridiculous statement. Our Union has always stood in the defence of workers’ and a strong advocate of workers improvement generally.
For obvious and understandable reasons, Mr Seetaram seems very much bothered by the workers and their families’ resistance in the sugar communities at this time. We urge him to lobby his contacts, who traverse the corridors of power in our country, to listen to the people’s cries and, to have them abandon their callous plans which will wreck the lives of too many of our working-people and their families.
Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU)