Scores turn out to protest closure of Enmore estate

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Another protest march, held this time in Enmore attracted significant numbers on Tuesday (May 23, 2017) as persons came together to protest Government and the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo’s) decision, to among others, facilitate the closure of the Enmore/LBI estate.

The march begun in the vicinity of the Enmore sugar factory and wended its way through several streets of Enmore Village and culminated at the Enmore Blossom Scheme Playground – a distance of about two (2) miles.

This activity which was organized by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) saw the participation of sugar workers, housewives, young people, pensioners, shopkeepers, and others who are staunchly opposed to plans by the Administration and the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) to close Enmore/LBI Estate at year-end.

The march, which lasted well over an hour, steadily grew as it went through the streets. Despite the rains which fell intermittently along the route, the participants were not daunted and continued to press on as the gathering grew. As they moved through the streets they held their placards and banners prominently as they shouted “No to Closure” and at times sang along to Bob Marley’s songs – Get up, Stand up and Who the cap fits – as well as the popular trade union song – Solidarity Forever.

Following the march, the marchers received brief addresses from Enmore/LBI shop steward, Roy Dundas; President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana, Carvil Duncan; Treasurer of the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), Bhagmat Hochand; GAWU Executive Committee member, Gordon Thomas; GAWU Assistant General Secretary, Aslim Singh, and GAWU President, Komal Chand.

All of the speakers congratulated those present for their spirited and well-attended march and encouraged them to continue to put up a strong fight. They urged the relevant authorities to sit up and take note of the growing people’s resistance to the unpopular plans they have in mind.

GAWU in a release said that “this activity like those before indicate that the people are in high spirits and are doggedly determined to continue in a sustained way to have the short-sighted and clearly wrong plans on sugar reviewed and recalled. Enmore/LBI Estates, at this time, employs some 2,200 workers and its operations support tens of thousands more. The GAWU was especially pleased to see the participation of non-sugar workers in today’s activities. Their presence, we hold, is prompted by their recognition of the difficulties that will beset the communities linked to Enmore/LBI and as now seen with the painful example of Wales.”

The workers Union said that it was disconcerting that closure is being considered at Enmore/LBI taking into account the investments in recent times. “Significant sums were expended to construct the packaging plant through which GuySuCo receives the best prices for its sugar, according to the Sugar Commission of Inquiry (CoI).”

Furthermore, GAWU outlined that “over the years, GuySuCo spent large sums in field conversion to facilitate mechanized operations. According to our information, Enmore/LBI is the most advanced estate in this regard in Demerara. It is perplexing that closure would be considered in view of the very good possibilities which are generally recognized.”

The workers, GAWU says, are calling on the Administration and the GuySuCo to engage the Unions in the sugar industry in meaningful dialogue to address the challenges the industry faces.

“We urge that the voices of the working, productive people be heard by those in whose hands are levers of power and to engage in frank discussions to avoid the serious consequences of closure on thousands of our working-people and their families” said GAWU.

This march comes on the heels of another massive one held recently in Rose Hall, which saw thousands protesting the impending closure of the Rose Hall estate.

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