Retrenched sugar workers receiving severance payments

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… some say they are dissatisfied with payment procedure

Nearly one month after Government shut down operations at the Rose Hall, Skeldon and East Demerara (Enmore) Estates and staff were reduced to skeletal numbers, former field, workshop and maintenance workers, among others, of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) have started to receive their severance payments.

Former sugar workers lined the entrance of the East Demerara Sugar Estate to collect their severance package

However, as scores of sugar workers lined the entrance of the East Demerara Estate to receive their severance package today, most of them expressed deep dissatisfaction with the process that was implemented to distribute the cheques.

The workers stood in the scorching sun as they received a number and awaited security to call their names. Some stood outside the estate’s compound for more than an hour.

Distribution of severance started at 13:00hrs and will close at 15:00hrs.

The workers feel that the payment time should have been extended from 8hrs to 15:00hrs instead.

This they posited would allow for persons to collect their packages hassle free and at their own convenience.

On January 19, 2018, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, after receiving a supplementary provision of $1.931B from the National Assembly, announced that redundant sugar estate workers whose severance payments are $500,000 and less will be paid in full by the end of January 2018.

A factory worker who received his severance cheque today inspecting it very carefully

It was also outlined that workers receiving in excess of the aforementioned sum would attain 50 per cent of their severance benefits by the end of this month and the other 50 per cent at the end of this year.

Agriculture Minister Noel Holder was quoted in the media saying that this segment of payments will be finalised by Wednesday.

“As far as I’m aware, everything will be paid off in full. All workers that have to be paid will be paid before Wednesday, before the end of the month,” Holder said.

The Opposition People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) had put Government on blast for its decision to pay the sacked sugar workers their severance payments in two tranches. A move Opposition Leader Dr Bharat Jadgeo, as well as others, had outlined on multiple occasions as being illegal.

According to Jadgeo, the government knew that over 4,000 severance letters were issued, even before the Budget 2018 was passed, and made no provision for severance, hence the move to approach the National Assembly recently for additional funds.

In what is described as the largest retrenchment by a private or public corporation in recent history, state owned GuySuCo as part of its plans to restructure the sugar industry has dismissed in excess of 4500 sugar workers from various estates. 

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