Wales Estate can help to save Uitvlugt Estate

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Dear Editor,

The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Inc would like to respond to the letter that was published in the media titled ‘Injustices to sugar workers are being perpetrated anew’ and penned by Seepaul Narine, General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU). In the letter Mr Narine was essentially focusing on what he claims ‘the company’s (GuySuCo’s) wrong decision to deny some 300 workers from wales estate their rightful severance entitlement’.

The Corporation wishes to appeal to GAWU on behalf of the workers and in the interest of the sustainability the industry as a whole, to provide advice to the workers that would see them securing continuous employment to sustain their livelihoods. Quite apart from the Corporation, these workers have a responsibility to their families and communities.

The corporation is in fact more interested in the future welfare of its employees and their families. In offering the cane harvesters and cane transport operators from Wales Estate continued employment, they will retain their benefits and be better able to sustain the future of their children.

Some of the benefits include; medical services for their spouses and children under 18 years, particularly in emergencies; access to financial assistance through the Corporation’s Bursary Award Programme; opportunity for their children to be selected to become an Apprentice at the GuySuCo’s Training School/Port Mourant; among others. Further, the income they earn will also contribute to the community in which they reside.

The Uitvlugt Estate has a severe labour shortage and need these employees to assist in harvesting. The immediate reality is that the turnout at Uitvlugt Estate for the crop so far, is as follows:

First Crop 2017

Weekending

Percentage

17 February,, 2017

55%

24 February, 2017

46%

  3 March, 2017

56%

10 March, 2017

41%

17 March, 2017

46%

24 March, 2017

50%

The implications of this low attendance is that canes are not being harvested in a timely manner, the factory cannot operate continuously and if the Corporation does not produce sugar then revenue will not be earned. It is ironic that GAWU is talking about sustainability, but the Corporation has to earn revenue in order to be sustainable.

Despite the precarious position of the Corporation, GAWU has narrowed this matter down to one of mere severance payment for 300 plus employees from Wales Estate, disregarding the need at Uitvlugt Estate. However, it is important to note that a greater problem could be imminent if the labour crisis at the Uitvlugt Estate is not addressed and arrested immediately. The Estate simply cannot survive with an average harvesters’ turnout between 41 and 56 perc entage.

In the light of the above, the obvious choice for the Corporation’s is to transfer its employees, in this case the Cane Harvesters and Cane Transport Operations, where the need for labour is great and as a part of its strategy to sustain the Uitvlugt Estate and to maintain some degree of stability in its business.

The Uitvlugt Estate gives support to communities from Cornelia Ida to Boeraserie in West Demerara. It provides community services such as: Employment and business opportunities for residents in West Demerara; drainage; also these villages are directly drained by the sluices that are maintained by the Estate; fresh water is provided for agricultural usage; emergency services  such as, Ambulance  and fire tender services are provided to the communities ;, recreational and sporting facilities and programmes are provided and maintained ; and primary health care to families as well as pensioners and their families in addition to other support services to our pensioners.

The Corporation is therefore appealing to GAWU to seriously help us to keep Uitvlugt Estate open and to support its expansion and upgrading programme so that it can continue to provide the economic, social and other opportunities for these communities.

The Corporation extends an invitation to its employees, in particular the Cane Harvesters and Transport Operators of Wales Estate, not only to reflect seriously on their and their families future, but also on the process, how they can contribute to the economic health of their neighbours and the community as a whole.

The question to be asked of the Union is, how can they insist on the Corporation maintaining the industry, while on the other hand arguing that its workers should not sustain Uitvlugt Estate?

Yours faithfully,

Audreyanna Thomas

Senior Communications Officer

Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo)