Workers, GAWU protest Govt’s decision to privatise Skeldon Estate
Workers attached to the Skeldon Sugar Estate on Tuesday rallied and protested the Government’s decision to privatise the Skeldon Sugar Estate.
The protest was held as workers returned to work after an extended out of crop.
It was the first day for the year that work was scheduled for many of the workers, as the estate had ceased grinding operations since last year.
On Tuesday, workers gathered at Republic Square, Skeldon, where they were addressed by representatives of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU).
President of the Union, Komal Chand, said sugar is not the only industry that is experiencing difficulties, adding that several other industries are all under the sledge hammer of the current Administration.
Chand urged the workers to be militant as he promised that the Union will not allow the efforts of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to go down in vain.
Chand also addressed the eight-page White Paper on the sugar industry, which was presented to the National Assembly and which he described as a lethargic attempt to represent the 200 odd years of the sugar industry in Guyana.
Additionally, he said the closure of the Wales Estate is a “failure” since all that has been done to replace the industry is the cultivation of about 200 acres of rice.
The Union’s President noted that at the Skeldon Estate, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has stopped planting some fields and tilling the land.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of the Union, Seepaul Narine, said management has started to remove machinery from the Skeldon factory.
Addressing the issue of the Skeldon modernisation plane being a failed investment, Narine shared the view that that was not so, saying the Cogeneration plant made $9.5 billion last year.
He is of the opinion that the estate does not have to be privatised.
Government’s decision to downscale the sugar industry is being viewed as one which will shatter the lives of many; especially those who will go on the breadline and students who would have wanted to further their studies by attending the GuySuCo Training Centre through a sugar estate in their community; which might now soon be closed.
It is also being viewed as a decision which will put more hardship on the Government and local government agencies, since GuySuCo maintained a large portion of the drainage and irrigation systems in both farming and residential communities.