Several sugar workers of the Albion Estate have staged a protest calling on the Guyana Sugar Cooperation (GuySuCo) to put measures in place to safeguard them against the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) and to be given the necessary financial support “during this difficult time”.
Despite calls being made for social distancing to contain the spread of the deadly disease, the sugar workers claim several of them are forced to huddle inside the estate’s truck to get to and from work.
Several workers expressed worry about their health and the conditions that they have to endure.
The workers bargaining agent, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) revealed that it has sent a letter to the GuySuCo’s Chief Industrial Relations Manager, Deodat Sukhu calling on the state-owned sugar company to temporarily suspend its operations for an appropriate period of one month in light of the COVID-19 epidemic.
According to the union, the correspondence which was copied to several senior GuySuCo officials, pointed out that over the last few days, workers have expressed fears about contracting the coronavirus which was heightened in recent days as the number of persons infected has risen.
The union stated that it would like to “remind GuySuCo that is it bound both by agreement and statue, among other things, to ensure that workers are protected from hazards whether they are physical or biological”.
The Union pointed out that workers have expressed anxieties about going to work, not because they are unwilling but they are seeking to protect their and their families’ health and well-being at this time. It was against this background that the Union urged the Corporation to consider a temporary cessation of operations.
The Union, in its correspondence, is calling on GuySuCo to provide appropriate financial support to the sugar workers, noting that the sugar workers and their families are Guyanese citizens like all citizens and deserve the support of the State during this difficult time.