In addition to the over 4000 sugar workers who were made redundant by the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) following the closure of several estates, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is reporting that a large number of the several hundred workers retained at Skeldon, Rose Hall, East Demerara and Wales Estate, after the recent deluge of dismissals, would soon be made additionally redundant.
According to GAWU, it was informed by GuySuCo that the workers were retained as the company was seeking to provide certain services to the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA). However, that arrangement has since fallen through and the workers will soon join the thousands already retrenched.
“In fact, that sad process of informing the identified workers would begin sometime soon with their redundancy becoming effective not too long from now” said GAWU.
The Workers Union in a statement on the further dismissals said that “The further expansion of the unemployed in the sugar belt is without a doubt making a really bad situation even worse. Given the absence of any plans to deal with the fallout from the miniaturization of the industry and the fiasco that has surrounded the workers severance payment, this furthering retrenchment is heart-rending to say the least.”
The government recently moved to the National Assembly and received approval for $1.93B – initially $1.75B – to pay some, not all, sugar workers the full sums of monies owed for their severance payments.
The move by the Administration to obtain supplementary funding to pay sugar workers their severance payments in two tranches months after it was decided that the workers’ last day of employment would be in December of 2017 was criticized by the political Opposition.
GAWU in its statement today said that from all appearances, “the Government and the GuySuCo are ill-prepared and clearly incapable of dealing with the consequences that have flowed from these callous decisions they made…The Government needs to be constantly reminded, it would seem, of its responsibility to all its citizens, to safeguard their interests and to enhance their living standards along to the road to that promised ‘Good Life’. The treatment of thousands of workers in the sugar industry is certainly contrary to such a universally accepted practice.”
The Workers Union also believes that it’s still not too late to reverse the decisions and re-open the estates “especially given the situation that we are seeing playing out with the workers at this time. We call on the Government as President David Granger reportedly said recently, to “put people before profits”. The GAWU believes that rather than displacing the workers, the NDIA could utilize the workers services and accordingly compensate GuySuCo.”
In what is described as the largest retrenchment by a private or public corporation in recent history, GuySuCo as part of its plans to restructure the sugar industry has dismissed in excess of 4000 sugar workers from Skeldon, Rose Hall, East Demerara and Wales Estates.
Only three estates, Albion in East Berbice, Blairmont in West Berbice and Uitvlugt on the West Coast of Demerara are being kept in operation.