[www.inewsguyana.com] – President Donald Ramotar has reiterated that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Ggovernment will work indefatigably to ensure that sugar not only endures, but the industry continues to make the great contribution that it has been making throughout its history to develop Guyana.
He said that the sugar industry’s best days are ahead, for not only the people of Guyana, but in particular for the workers.
Addressing attendees at the 102nd anniversary commemoration ceremony of the Rosehall Martyrs, at the monument site in Canje on Wednesday, March 25, the Head of State highlighted the challenges faced in the sugar industry since the European Union (EU) price cut.
The president told the attendees at the ceremony held to remember the 15 sugar workers who lost their lives and 56 others injured when colonial police opened fire that the PPP/C government will continue its support for the industry as it plans to spend $20 billion over the next five years to ensure its survival.
He blasted the opposition for not supporting the industry, noting its call for its closure. Only this week, former PNC parliamentarian Stanley Ming said sugar was dead and that government was pumping money into an industry which is being eliminated in other countries.
The president said labour competition with other industries will see more mechanisation in the industry, but noted that workers will not be fired, but retrained.
He said alternative sources of fuel such as ethanol as produced by the Albion estate in Region Six will see new revenue streams for the industry, and electricity will be produced using bagasse to insulate the industry from the vagaries of world prices.
The Head of State said that India has promised assistance in producing specialty sugars and extensive discussions were had with Indian officials in this regard. In January, the president during a state visit to India toured the Valsad sugar factory in the State of Gujarat and was briefed on the plant’s operations.
Following the ceremony, wreaths were laid by relatives of the deceased, President Ramotar, Minister Anthony, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and regional officials.
On March 15, 2014, a 9ft tall memorial, which rests on a reinforced concrete base, inset with a 2x2ft porcelain plaque, inscribed with the names of those killed and rests on the mass grave containing their bodies, was unveiled by the Head of State.
The massacre resulted after workers decided to protest the retraction of a four- day holiday given to them for good production. The workers took strike action on the days scheduled as break, in protest. It was decided that in order for charges of failing to report for work to be dropped, the workers would pay legal costs.
They refused and the matter was taken to court, after being found guilty of “instigating resistance to work”, the workers protested and management threatened to transfer protesting families to other plantations. More protests occurred and warrants were issued for the protests’ leaders. Workers resisted this move and colonial police ranks opened fire, killing 15 and injuring 56 others, on that fateful day. [Extracted and modified from GINA]