Thousands turn out, chant ‘no sellout, no closure’ at Skeldon’s sugar protest

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A march organised by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) earlier today (June 06, 2017) at Skeldon to protest the Administration’s plans for the sugar industry attracted thousands according to the Union in a released statement.

The march which consisted of primarily sugar workers was also joined by other persons from various sectors of the Skeldon community.

The march which was about a mile and a half long moved off from outside of the Administrative Offices of Skeldon Estate along the Public Road to the vicinity of the Springlands NIS office and then to the Republic Square where it culminated.

The procession steadily grew in the course of the peacefully conducted activity and there was a steady chant from the protestors:- “No Sellout, No Closure”.

At the Republic Square the marchers were addressed by Chairman of Region Six, David Armogan; Member of Parliament, Dr Vishwa Mahadeo; GAWU Executive Committee member, Gordon Thomas; GAWU Assistant General Secretary, Aslim Singh; GAWU General Secretary, Seepaul Narine; Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA) General Secretary, Dharamkumar Seeraj, and GAWU President, Komal Chand.

The speakers in their addresses congratulated the marchers for their large turnout and their spirited march. They opined that the powers-that-be cannot ignore the people’s strong disagreement with the floated plans for sugar which would bring severe hardships and difficulties for thousands and upset scores of communities, as is the case at Wales now.

The various speakers also pointed out that “wool was being pulled over our eyes with regards to Skeldon.”

According to GAWU  “on one hand, the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) and the State are saying that the new Skeldon factory is a “ticking time bomb” but, on the other hand, we see ready  interest is being expressed by investors. Certainly the interested parties are aware of the value and potential of the estate, thus their interest.”

Skeldon Estate, the GAWU holds, is an important element to GuySuCo’s success and viability. Those present were also disturbed to learn, as reported in the media, of the decision of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland to deny the Economic Services Committee from engaging sugar workers and others on the direction of the industry.

The protestors lamented that while such serious decisions are made about sugar no one from the Administration had seen it fit to engage them.

Those present also heard from a number of vendors of the Skeldon market. They related the current hardships they face arising from low and declining sales. They said it is difficult to make ends meet as it is and they are very worried about what would happen should the estate be sold.

According to GAWU, sugar workers and others linked to the industry are very anxious at this time over the plans outlined in the Government’s State Paper on the sugar industry. “Many are opposed to the plans recognizing the sad situation that would befall them and their families. At this time, they are calling on the Government and GuySuCo to listen to their cries and not to pursue its proposed plans.”

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