The gains made for sugar workers on the whole are gradually being whittled away by an unsympathetic and uncaring regime. This is according to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) which in observance of Enmore Martyrs Day noted that the Party was committed to defending the rights of all sugar workers, especially at this time when the industry was experiencing extended periods of challenges.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the PPP saluted the memory of the five sugar workers who were gunned down by colonial Police in British Guiana on June 16, 1948.
“The five slain sugar workers, now referred to as the Enmore Martyrs stand as a living monument to the struggles and sacrifices waged by sugar workers for a living wage and better conditions of work,” the Party noted.
The workers who died were Lallabaggie and Dookie from Enmore, and Rambarran, Harry and Pooran from Enterprise/Nonpareil.
It was noted that the killing of these five workers served as a catalyst to the formation of the PPP back in January 1950. “Indeed, it was at the graveside of the slain workers that Dr Jagan made that silent pledge to dedicate his entire life to the cause of the working people,” the Party said.
According to the PPP, sugar workers today face an uncertain future with the decision to close Wales Estate and the impending closure of the La Bonne Intention (LBI) Estate. It added that workers are also being denied their Annual Production Incentive (API) and the fruits of other collective bargaining agreements with their union.
“The gains made for sugar workers and workers on the whole are gradually being whittled away by an unsympathetic and uncaring regime, which is more concerned about feathering its own nest rather than that of the working class. The PPP urges all workers to unite and close ranks against this onslaught in honour of the heroic struggles waged by the Enmore Martyrs who paid the ultimate price of sacrificing their lives in defence of their rights,” it added.
The PPP is also calling on the Administration to stop “playing politics” with the livelihoods of sugar workers by immediately halting the closure of sugar estates. The PPP has reiterated calls for Government to instruct the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to “respect the collective labour agreement it has with unions operating in the sugar industry”.
“This disrespect and callous attitude displayed by GuySuCo is a clear violation of industrial relations enshrined in the Conventions of the International Labour Organisation. The PPP takes this opportunity of Enmore Martyrs Day to serve notice on the APNU-AFC administration that it will not sit idly by and allow the rights of workers to be ignored and violated,” observed the Party.