Reference is made to a letter from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) Inc that appeared in the Guyana Chronicle on (Saturday) December 10, 2016.
Sugar worker Dharamdeo Brijwalla, a shop steward and an employee attached to Blairmont Estate, was summarily dismissed by letter of August 5, 2016, which was signed by the Estate’s Human Resources Manager.
Brijwalla, aged 40 years, cut and fetched canes for nearly 25 years, one of the toughest tasks in the sugar industry.
On June 14, 2016, there was an altercation between Brijwala and another worker, Nizam Ally, while they were in a transportation lorry. The Corporation contended that Brijwala assaulted Ally during that altercation between the two men. On the other hand, Ally in a statement admitted that he broadsided Brijwalla with his cutlass. Also, Ally requested that he wished to have the matter amicably settled. Nonetheless, Brijwala was dismissed from the employ of the Estate.
Representation to GuySuCo, at the central level, by the Union failed to persuade the Corporation to reverse its decision to dismiss Brijwalla. The next stage of the grievance procedure, conciliation, was invoked by the Union. At conciliation, the presiding conciliator, Charles Ogle – Chief Labour, Occupational Safety and Health Officer (CLOSH) – following the presentations by the Union and the Corporation on September 30, 2016 recommended that the Corporation review its decision. GuySuCo subsequently reported to the CLOSH and the Union that it would not alter its decision. Thus, the CLOSH summoned a meeting on December 2, 2016 and declared the dispute deadlocked. Mr Ogle, in concluding the matter at his level, advised that the parties seek to have the matter adjudicated by an arbitrator.
The Union, in the circumstances, sought to obtain the approval of the Corporation to follow the course of action proffered by the Ministry of Social Protection. Unfortunately, GuySuCo, by letter dated December 6, 2016, refused to have the dispute considered at arbitration.
The Union is of the strong view that Brijwala was discriminated against by the Corporation. GAWU took into account that the incident, which occurred since June 14, 2016, resulted in summary dismissal only on August 5, 2016. Moreover, the Corporation’s dismissal decision was significantly influenced by Brijwalla’s firmly holding that a price dispute on August 4, 2016 involving workers of his gang be settled with certain level of payment. This view by the Union has been strengthened by GuySuCo’s negative stance for arbitration.
Workers of the industry have been in recent months invariably pummelled by certain managerial staff. And, Brijwalla’s case is yet another example of GuySuCo’s anti-workers’ thrust. GAWU will certainly pursue this case and, needless to say, is in full support of the former shop steward and dismissed worker, Dharamdeo Brijwalla.