Enough is enough! Sugar workers take to the streets
Merging of LBI/Enmore Estates
By Alexis Rodney
Hundreds of sugar workers on Friday took to the streets once again, rejecting what they said are the oppressive conditions under which they have been mandated to earn a living, and are calling for an immediate intervention by the relevant authorities.
Workers attached to the Enmore and La Bonne Intention estates, East Coast Demerara, chanted “enough is enough!” as they paraded the streets, saying that they will no longer stand for the oppressive behaviour of the management of the two factories.
They are protesting that the merging of the two estates has made it difficult to get a full week’s work.
They said the situation would more than likely cause them to leave the job eventually.
One worker said that usually workers would receive $2100 per day. However, this amount has since been reduced to $700, which they say is very insufficient to maintain a family.
They are calling on President David Granger and Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder to intervene so that the issues could be smoothly resolved.
One field officer of the East Demerara Estate said the protest continued from last week.
“Management is taking away one hour from us. I wrote management on behalf of the workers… this is clear victimisation with what management is doing at Enmore…The workers stands side by side with this union…all we want is everything back to normal. We want back the one hour, LBI must remain LBI, and Enmore must remain Enmore,” he said, to the satisfaction of those gathered round.
The other protestors, who spoke with this publication, all had similar concerns. They maintained that the new arrangement will do more harm than good for them and their families.
The workers said they will continue to protest until a decision that is reasonable is struck between GuySuCo and the Union.
Meanwhile, moments after the protest, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), also slammed the sugar corporation for forcing sugar workers of the La Bonne Intention estate to join with the Enmore Sugar Estate.
At a press conference GAWU President Komal Chand called on the sugar corporation to allow the much-needed dialogue that could see a remedy to the situation. He said the union will have to consider some “anomalies” between the rates workers at LBI received and that which they are being offered should they have to go to Enmore. He said the situation is more than unfair since persons will be travelling from varying distances to get to Enmore, while the monies have been significantly slashed.
“We need to dialogue on these matters,” he told journalists at the union’s headquarters on Friday.
“We are faced with a wall…this is a serious matter and I think that the board of GuySuCo needs to intervene, not to allow this fragmentation and bad relationship to become worse, because too much is at stake at the industry,” he said.
Chand said that some stringent measures have been taken to reach the authorities; however, things remain dormant, as there has not been as much as an acknowledgement from those sought after.
Meanwhile, workers insisted that GuySuCo must not demand that they work under less favourable conditions as they would be required at Enmore Estate.
According to GAWU, the workers have correctly observed that the 2700 hectare LBI cultivation remains intact unlike the LBI factory operations, which include the Field Workshop, Mill Dock, Field Lab, Stores, and Administrative Offices which were closed at the end of July. They said their work at LBI has not become redundant.
On the other hand, the field workers of Enmore Estate are objecting to the manner in which their counterparts at LBI Estate are being pushed over to their Estate. They are seeking to organise a meeting through their shop stewards and the Union’s Field Officer with the Management of the Estate to have some work issues addressed.
However, when contacted, the Estate Manager of Enmore Estate informed the Union’s Field Officer that GuySuCo had already made its decision.