Sugar workers have been abandoned by APNU+AFC. As sugar workers dangle on a string, those who vigorously proclaimed themselves champions of sugar workers, people like Moses Nagamootoo and Ramjattan, are deafeningly silent. Their silence is acquiescence to the vicious assault on sugar workers. As they enjoy the trappings of exalted positions, like Prime Minister and Minister of Public Security, because of the votes of some sugar workers seduced by their holy combustible rubbish, Nagamootoo and APNU+AFC have reprehensively betrayed the workers.
In 2015 and 2016, APNU+AFC/GUYSUCO imposed an unconscionable wage freeze on sugar workers with a zero offer and no discussion. They will no doubt claim they consulted with workers when they informed the unions in writing indicating talks are unnecessary since GUYSUCO is not in a position to grant an increase of wages. This does not constitute fair wage negotiations. APNU+AFC, for its part, has resoundingly ignored the plea of sugar workers, the same sugar workers they depended on for votes to get them into government in 2015.
APNU+AFC’s zero wage increases for 2015 and 2016 represent the first time since 1983 that sugar workers did not get a wage increase. Indeed, since 1940, sugar workers have had a zero wage increase only five times – 1979, 1982, 1983 (under the PNC) and now in 2015 and 2016 (under APNU+AFC). This same APNU+AFC prior to the May 2015 elections went around the sugar belt promising sugar workers they would grant them a 20% annual wage increase were they in government. APNU+AFC got their wish when some sugar workers believed the lies they peddled and voted for them. Without the votes of some sugar workers, APNU+AFC would have been in opposition again. The rewards for the sugar workers have been absolute betrayal and abandonment.
Under the PPP, from 1992 to 2015, sugar workers negotiated a wage increase every year, in good years and bad years, with an annual average increase of 9.6% for 23 years. In the last five years with various challenges and an uphill battle to maintain production near target, the sugar workers were still able to negotiate wage increases of between 3.5% to 8%. The PPP was clearly motivated to help workers. Today, workers are at the mercy of APNU+AFC who view them from a different lens. Contrast zero increases for sugar workers with 50 to 75% increases for Ministers, 6-10% increases for public servants for 2015 and 2016 and 26% minimum wage increase in the private sector for 2016 and a scandalous story of sugar workers abandonment is exposed.
Compounding the abandonment of sugar workers is that both weekly and annual production incentives, benefits workers are entitled to since 1976, have been eroded by APNU+AFC/GUYSUCO for 2015 and 2016. With production of more than 230,000 tons in 2015, sugar workers should have received 7 to 8 days API payment. They received only 2.5 days with an unfair arbitrary formula, moving from about 35,000 tons for a day’s bonus pay to almost 90,000 tons. Similar adjustments made it impossible for workers to earn WPI.
The 2015 API is the lowest, together with API for 1984 and 1985, since the API agreement was signed in 1976. In the 1980s, API for the decade averaged 4.5 days pay annually under the PNC, in the 1990s, 18.3 days under the PPP, from 2001 to 2010, API averaged 13.5 days and between 2011 and 2014, the average was 6.4 days. Suddenly it has dropped to just 2 days under APNU+AFC. We suspect 2016 will be zero.
The lead culprits in fooling sugar workers were Nagamootoo and Ramjattan. They had good back-ups in people like Charandass, the APNU+AFC MP from Region 6 and Abel Seetaram from Region 5. Granger himself told the sugar workers not to worry, sugar is too important and too big to fail. Now Granger has announced that his government is unwilling to continue supporting GUYSUCO. For Granger, Nagamootoo, Ramjattan and their colleagues in APNU+AFC sugar workers are merely pawns in a game that charlatans and petty politicians play. But sugar workers have noticed that Nagamootoo and Ramjattan and their supporting team are MIA, missing in action, deadly silent, cat cut their tongues.
While freezing sugar workers wages, simultaneously, GUYSUCO and APNU+AFC found money to pay expensive consultants for a Wales Rice Study, Aquaculture Study, Skeldon Rice Study. They contracted a firm form the US, and people like Harold Davis, Earl John, Joe Alfred, Tony Vierra, Fritz Mc Clean, and other OLD PNC hacks who were with the Harold Davis Snr. administration. Will they reveal the cost of these consultancies and studies, like the $450M rice pilot in Wales?
As the boss man wags his fingers and GUYSUCO obediently carries out the instruction – contraction and closure of sugar – Nagamootoo and Ramjattan are whimpering in a corner. APNU+AFC has completely sidelined them, even omitting them from the cabinet sub-committee to navigate the contraction and closure of sugar. The executioners are Harmon, Trotman and Holder. No Nagamootoo, no Ramjattan, the lead charlatans who wickedly seduced sugar workers with a 20% annual wage increase and a promise to double sugar workers wages in less than 5 years. They got some votes, which with some rigging, were enough to slide APNU+AFC into the government. Now both of them are banished.
Dr Leslie Ramsammy