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Cane cutters to continue protest

first_imgWales severance falloutAs hundreds of Wales cane cutters continue to register their frustration against the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) non-payment of severance, a series of follow-up protest actions are planned for the coming days. The sugar workers noted that GuySuCo is “forcing” them to transfer their service to Uitvlugt Estate on the West Coast of Demerara, on the grounds that they will maintain them on the Wales payroll.Workers formally attached to the Wales Estate protested the President’s Office last MondayThe workers are however demanding that they be paid severance on the basis that they cannot be compelled to travel 22 miles from their point of origin.According to information reaching Guyana Times, the workers will picket the Wales Estate’s management on Monday morning. This will be followed by a public meeting with workers and residents at the Patentia Square on Tuesday afternoon. This publication understands that workers intend to stage additional protests at other locations of entities attached to GuySuCo, including the Sugar Corporation’s Head Office at Ogle, East Coast Demerara.This newspaper was recently informed that at Thursday’s meeting with the Sugar Corporation, employees and union representatives, GuySuCo reportedly maintained that the workers “have to go” to the Uitvulgt Estate. This follows the Agriculture Ministry’s public disclosure that all Wales, West Bank Demerara workers who were entitled to their severance package had already been paid and noted that there is no severance payment outstanding.Late last week, the Ministry said it was surprised by the protest action taken by sugar workers outside of the Ministry of the Presidency.The Corporation had told the public that the Uitvlugt Estate is being upgraded to increase its production from 20,000 to 40,000 tonnes of sugar annually. On this basis, GuySuCo had reiterated its demand for labour. In a statement to the press, the Corporation also registered its “frustration” publicly over the moves undertaken by the union which it had deemed as “anti-business, anti-management, anti-discipline and anti-GuySuCo tactics”.However, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) noted that the Corporation’s contention that redundant workers from Wales Estate being paid severance payments, was “plainly misleading”. The Union had further said its workers being labelled as disingenuous best fits GuySuCo and, seemingly, the Agriculture Ministry.“There is no merger of Wales and Uitvlugt factory operations as asserted in the statement. The fact is that cane cultivation and sugar processing have ended at Wales and the estate is now sadly closed. No amount of semantics can wish away this depressing fact,” GAWU had said.The Union said further that workers were concerned about their job security, and expressly called for Wales not to be closed in order to save their main source of livelihood.“They, at no time, promoted the transfer of their jobs some 22 miles away to Uitvlugt. Their call unfortunately fell on deaf ears and did not find favour with the Administration. Now, GuySuCo is seeking to rub salt in the deep wounds it inflicted by trampling on their right to severance pay and seeking to cover its insensitivity by resorting to hackneyed and old claim of ‘politically instigated’”.In early 2016, Guyana Times broke the news of Government’s intention to close the Wales Factory. Shortly afterwards, Government confirmed the end of sugar operations at Wales Estate, citing cost as the main factor for closure. It was later disclosed that rice will be planted as part of the diversification plan, but it remains unclear when the first rice crop will be reaped.last_img read more