Sugar workers to strike indefinitely; GAWU denies political motivation

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By Jomo Paul

GAWU General Secretary, Seepaul Narine
GAWU General Secretary, Seepaul Narine

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Sugar Workers are to continue current strike actions indefinitely or until the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) can arrive at common ground on the Annual Performance Incentive (API).

The API is usually paid by GuySuCo at the end of the year and is based largely on the production that workers would have been able to achieve during the year.

Speaking to iNews on Tuesday afternoon, GAWU General Secretary, Seepaul Narine confirmed that the workers began strike action last Saturday, but stated he has no idea when it will conclude.

When asked if it was an indefinite strike, he said “It would appear so.” According to Narine, the strike action is in direct response to the company’s position on the API payout.

Reports indicate that GuySuCO is pushing for an API at 2.6 days which would mean that 85,000 tonnes of sugar should equal a day’s pay.

GAWU on the other hand is proposing that a day’s pay be set at 37,125 tonnes – this proposal would see workers being given six days pay as the API.

With GuySuCo’s proposal, the sugar company would dole out $70M in API payments to the 18,000 sugar workers. It would be more than double that amount if the company were to accept the proposal from GAWU, Narine admitted.

[File Photo]
[File Photo]
“Having heard that news, they are dissatisfied and decided to go on strike,” he stated.

“The fact that it came down as low as this, the union and the company recognizes that there is need for some adjustment,” he added.

The General Secretary was also questioned about the obvious implications an indefinite strike would have on GuySuCO.

He responded, “That’s an issue that is of concern to everybody and it must be of concern to them (workers). The question is what will happen to them if they don’t get no pay raise and they don’t get an incentive as well. Look on the other side of the coin.”

Given the public opinion that GAWU is closely aligned to the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), there was the question of the strike action being politicallyc motivated and aimed at stepping on the government’s toes.

“I am not aware of that. We have our organization, we have our own General Council and we are guided by the principles of our own organizational structure,” said Narine.

He said that there is no political interference in GAWU’s affairs as far as he is aware, asserting that he is not taking directions from anyone else but the General Council.

That General Council is headed by Komal Chand, a PPP Parliamentarian.

6 COMMENTS

  1. You’re blaming a government that’s in office for just six months, but you can’t see how the ppp wrecked the sugar industry while in office, you need to take your blinders off.

  2. The ABC countries that installed the PNC government for OIL wealth will NOT buy Sugar from Guyana! When would people realize that these countries hardly uses Sugar but uses artificial replacement. Guyana trade partners under the PPP -Venezuela and Suriname are now enemies to Guyana under the PNC administration. Granger and his set of ministers are a bunch of dunces when it comes to economic skills. These guys are using similar tactics that Burhnam used to kill Guyana economy in the past – That is take loans from every possible way they can get….already from the USA, India and Saudi….soon Guyana will force itself into Bankruptcy under this administration -leading the dollar value to slide lower and USA to suck oil out cheaper….Tourism is already dead since the have no pro active plans to tackle crime as well….the Guyana economy cannot offset itself under this PNC regime….

  3. Inews, how about some real investigative reporting. What was the API rate and production last year compared to this year. This is an incentive bonus and should be based on improved production not a handout. Give your readers facts instead of causing all these emotional rhetoric.

  4. You can tell it to your puppets and followers who seem to believe everything you tell them,can`t think for themselves.I categorically say that the strike is POLITICAL,,because a politician is at the helm.You can only con FOOLS.

  5. The Union must be reminded that their survival is dependent on the mere survival of the Industry and not the other way round. There is no other company that pays all it money to its employees and still faces another day, name one. Komal Chand can fool the sugar workers as he has been doing over the last two decades but not the total Guyanese population. Inews need to check back the value of the days pay quoted by GAWU for we were told last year that one day pay API cost close to $80 M. The workers cannot strike for indefinite as they were lead in the early 70-80s. I dare them to strike for more than a week. We are back at work at Skeldon. Workers have mouth to feed, mortgages and bills to pay etc. Will Komal pay them he receives free utilities from parliament in addition to three or four other sources of salaries.GAWU what about strike relieve. I have heard and seen many workers who are refusing to strike and are willing to work, but are afraid of being victimize.

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