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GuySuCo belabouring wrong argument on Wales closure

first_imgDear Editor, We refer to a letter of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) which appeared in April 13, 2017 in another section of the media under the hand of the company’s Senior Communications Officer, Ms Audreyanna Thomas.The Corporation’s Communications Officer again belaboured the worn-out and wrong argument that Wales Estate has not been closed. But we hasten to ask, hasn’t the cultivation of cane and the processing of sugar ended at Wales? Haven’t hundreds of workers been made redundant and have been confronted with the prospect of an uncertain future? Haven’t many cane farmers, a large number with small ancestral peasant-type holdings, been forced out of business? Hasn’t the Corporation begun to cannibalise the Wales factory? Certainly, if that isn’t closure, then GuySuCo and Ms Thomas may have redefined the word. While our Union, the workers and all Guyanese continually hear about Wales being the launching pad for the Corporation’s re-activation of its Other Crops Division (OCD), we ask the sugar company to advise us all how far have their ideas been implemented? As far as we are aware, nothing has been done and all we hear about are studies, feasibility assessments, etc. Undoubtedly, the Corporation put the “cart before the horse” in closing Wales.Ms Thomas makes reference to high production costs, but fails to tell us that a significant proportion, around 70 per cent, of the industry’s  costs are fixed. An important element in addressing cost reduction is improved production, which will lend to lower average fixed costs. On the declining market prices, the Corporation is well aware that refocusing its marketing within the Caricom Region and non-traditional European buyers is a first step to securing improved prices. Moreover, establishing a refinery will absorb a large proportion of its sugar output and for which there is an assured lucrative market in the Caribbean. The maximisation of the packaging capacity is also another area where profitability can be had. On the Corporation’s debt, we see the quoted sum as a ‘red herring’ meant to deceive and mislead.We share GuySuCo’s view about Uitvlugt and are supportive of measures and plans to improve production. But we ask when it is generally accepted that all estates are operating below their potentiality, why hasn’t the Corporation advanced plans to have production in line with productivity as it seeks to do at Uitvlugt? On the labour issue at Uitvlugt, it is irksome for us that the Corporation has refused funding for further mechanisation at that estate to address the labour difficulties. We take the Corporation’s explanation, on this matter, with a pinch of salt.Ms Thomas refers to the need to secure Uitvlugt, “…to contribute to a buoyant economy in West Demerara communities”. We share the view entirely, but are at the same time confused. As it is the same State-owned enterprise which closed Wales Estate located in West Demerara and is advancing plans to close the East Demerara and Rose Hall Estates and to sell out Skeldon Estate. Aren’t those workers, residents and communities deserving of similar treatment. GAWU’s advice to the Wales workers is in keeping with the workers’ rights as outlined in the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA). It would be unprincipled and callous for our Union to knowingly countenance an illegality. And concerning the planters of East Demerara, the workers being given tasks when not planting is widely known and accepted. It is GuySuCo, which in spite of long-standing practices, that is compelling the planters to cut canes. It is disheartening for us to register, in both scenarios, that the Corporation is seemingly re-introducing the wretched system of forced labour in the sugar industry. While GuySuCo points to the level of turnout by cane cutters at East Demerara Estate, it fails to see the absurdity in its statement. At this time, when jobs outside of sugar are limited, if not non-existent, the level of turnout should strike a chord. The fact remains that willingness to work is influenced by rates of pay. Certainly, denial of pay raises and Annual Production Incentive (API) in recent times along with other machinations to reduce workers’ income will not lend to improved willingness to work. The workers and the Union are willing to work to turnaround the industry, but our enthusiasm and drive have been tempered by the anti-workers’ position and haughty and arrogant attitude being displayed by the Corporation’s officers.We reiterate the majority of strikes are related to price disputes which arise when negotiations regarding additional payments for workers to undertake tasks in vine-infested, grassy and weedy fields break down. Such work stoppages are deemed legitimate by the agreement between the parties. These stoppages could be avoided if the Corporation approaches the matters more open-mindedly with a view to seek a resolution; often times this is not the case. Moreover, high cane yields reduce the propensity of vines and other obstacles in the fields and in that way reduce demands for additional payments which in effect serves to reduce work stoppages. This is known by the Corporation’s ‘best minds’.The Corporation, in its submission to the Administration, which was shared with us, points out that by 2020 it would become profitable. But at the same time, 9000 workers directly would be jobless and the hopes, dreams and aspirations of thousands more would be shattered. We shudder to think of such treatment meted out to our working people. Is this the ‘Good Life’ the workers and their families were promised?Yours faithfully,Seepaul NarineGAWU General Secretarylast_img read more

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NBA NOTEBOOK James is living large in China

first_imgJames is a hot property in basketball’s most dynamic marketplace. And the NBA and Nike know it, both looking toward next year’s Beijing Olympics, where James would surely capture world attention if he leads the beleaguered American basketball team to a gold medal. Several hundred Chinese reporters and photographers showed up for Tuesday’s practice at the Lu Wan Stadium. They engulfed James at the far end of the floor when he stopped shooting. He squatted on a low-slung bench, back against the wall, and stared up to answer questions, cutting deep furrows across his forehead. “Every time I’m here it’s the same response: It’s great, the fans love us, the kids are great,” James said. “The spirit the Chinese have for the game of basketball is great. “Nothing surprises me now.” Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy has forfeited $30,000 in restitution to the government under his plea deal in a basketball gambling scam. Donaghy, who admitted to betting on games he officiated, made the payment last month, according to court records. Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn which is prosecuting the case, confirmed the payment. The veteran referee pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn court to felony charges for taking cash payoffs from gamblers and betting on games he officiated. He was released on $250,000 bond and is set to be sentenced Nov. 9. Court papers say Donaghy, 40, started placing bets on NBA games in 2003. He then gave gamblers inside information, including tips on which crews would officiate games and how the various officials and players interacted. Jason Terry made a 3-pointer with four seconds left to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 101-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings in a preseason game in Las Cruces, N.M. The game featured the return of former New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus, the former Inglewood High star who went 41-23 during his two years in Las Cruces and led the Aggies to the NCAA Tournament this past March before signing on with the Kings. Donaghy pays $30,000 Exhibition160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.“You see them (billboards) locally, and then you start seeing them a little bit nationwide. And now worldwide. It’s like, wow. It’s like extra credit. It’s unbelievable. “You would never think that you could have your face somewhere else where you don’t even live.” James’ shoe sponsor converted a Shanghai art gallery into a LeBron James showroom. Dubbed the “LBJ Museum,” the promotion this week includes a freshly shellacked basketball court, aimed at pitching James in China, where 300 million people – the population of the United States – play basketball. Nike also unveiled the latest version of James’ signature shoe. It’s the second time it’s picked China – ahead of the U.S. – to show off James’ newest offering. The “limited edition” shoe was selling Tuesday for almost $200. Nike’s newest TV spot featuring James also kicked off this week in China, several weeks ahead of its U.S. premiere. From news services LeBron James looms large in Shanghai, China. He hovers over a basket in billboards around the city leading to today’s NBA exhibition game between his Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic and another game Saturday in the former Portuguese territory of Macau. “For me, growing up, I never thought about having a billboard anywhere,” James said, slipping off a white NBA headband and replacing it with a Cleveland Indians cap. last_img read more

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Jennifer felt disturbed after watching Hustlers

first_imgLos Angeles: Jennifer Lopez says she got disturbed after watching herself play a stripper in her movie Hustlers. “When I watched the movie for the first time, I was like, a little bit sick to my stomach. I was like, ‘Oh my God! What are they doing? They are going to kill this guy!’ They were playing with fire,” Lopez told Lopez features in Hustlers as Ramona, a veteran stripper who sets up an initiative to scam wealthy men when the sex industry bottoms out during the financial crisis of the late 2000s. For her, the challenging part of the movie was committing to the costumes. “It’s not like me being on-stage with a bunch of tights and fishnets on and bodysuits. Those are sexy costumes. This is another level. You’re out there naked,” she added.last_img read more

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Hospital security guards facing increased violence due to meth crisis union

first_imgWINNIPEG – The president of a Manitoba union representing security officers in the province’s hospitals has invited the health minister to sit with her in an emergency room to see the dangerous situations fuelled by methamphetamine.Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union, said it’s not uncommon for officers to be kicked, punched or spit on.“Come and sit in an ER with me on a Friday night of a full moon minister. Let’s take a look at what’s happening out there because I know what’s happening out there,” she said Wednesday.Gawronsky sent a letter to health and justice ministers on Tuesday that said officers are finding patients at Winnipeg’s downtown Health Sciences Centre who are carrying dangerous weapons such as knives.She also pointed to an incident in January where a corrections officer escorting a patient was stabbed with surgical scissors and another in June where a security guard was stabbed with a syringe full of blood.Gawronsky told the province officers need a more elevated legal status to allow them to intervene in situations with more authority. Right now, she said officers don’t know whether they can physically intervene if someone is acting out at the hospital.Health Minister Cameron Friesen said meth has caused challenges across the country. He said the province is looking for ways to provide addictions treatment and maintain safety in health-care facilities.Friesen said he was disappointed the union was implying security personnel are not adequately trained.“All security officers in these facilities have the ability, have the training and are licenced under the Criminal Code to intervene and make that intervention,” he said, adding many are former police or military.The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority also said guards are properly equipped to respond to aggressive or violent incidents.It said some guards at Health Sciences Centre have a constable designation which is solely used to take custody of mental health patients who are brought to the hospital by police.Gawronsky’s letter was sent just days after the Manitoba Nurses Union raised concerns after a nurse was punched in the face by a patient high on methamphetamine. Union president Darlene Jackson said nurses are seeing more violence across the province.“We are urging the government and (the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority) to implement not only enhanced security, but provide more addictions treatment services and mental health beds to combat the crisis and utilize long-term, evidence based solutions to the problem,” Jackson said in an emailed statement.Numbers from Winnipeg’s health authority show there has been a 1,200 per cent rise in people going to hospitals because of methamphetamine — from 12 in April 2013 to 218 meth-related visits in April 2018.Addictions Foundation of Manitoba said meth use increased by more than 100 per cent in adults and nearly 50 per cent in youth since 2014.Winnipeg’s police chief has said the skyrocketing use of methamphetamine is creating a crisis for police, health care services and addictions treatment centres.Police have said meth has become the drug of choice in Manitoba because it’s available, easy to make and it can get people high for up to 14 hours. Meth can also induce psychosis, causing users to act unpredictably.last_img read more