Sugar Estates closure: GAWU approaches CCJ to expedite appeal hearing

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Following the High Court denial of its application to quash the decision to shut down the Rose Hall and East Demerara Estate and the subsequent adjournment of the its appeal to January, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU)  have now moved to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to have its appeal hearing expedited before the estates are closed on December 31.

GAWU President Komal Chand

GAWU’s President, Komal Chand said that the Court of Appeal on Thursday adjourned the hearing filed by GAWU and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) until January 15, 2018.

However according to Chand at a press briefing held on Friday, “if the closure takes place and the matter is heard afterwards then it might not be a fruitful exercise.”

The two Unions appealed the decision by acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire; when she denied their application to halt the closure of the East Demerara and Rose Hall Sugar factories.

Chand noted that their lawyers hurriedly approached the CCJ to have the matter heard since it is one that is based on time.

“While I cannot confirm this, we are reliably informed that the CCJ will immediately organize a panel of judges to hear the arguments of Naccie and GAWU through our lawyers why this must be granted…We are now awaiting what will be the position of the CCJ whether they will direct the court here to listen to this matter since it is important and timely” Chand said.

The GAWU President further stated that they are hopeful that the CCJ gets down to business by the end of Friday so that the issue could be addressed since the estates are expected to be closed by December 31.

GAWU and NAACIE had contended before the Chief Justice (ag) that the closure decisions were “improper” and there were insufficient consultations between the Government and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) as well as between the Government and the Unions.

In what is described as the largest retrenchment by a private or public corporation in recent history, GuySuCo is expected to send home an estimated 4000 workers by the end of the year as part of plans to restructure the sugar industry.

By the end of the year, estates at Rose Hall, Skeldon, Wales and Enmore would cease operations.

Only three estates, Albion in East Berbice, Blairmont in West Berbice and Uitvlugt on the West Coast of Demerara are being kept in operation.

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