It has been over three months since the estimated 3500 sugar workers from Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt estates petitioned President David Granger for him to intervene in a pay hike discussion for sugar workers.
However, President David Granger has referred the matter to Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder for him to intervene.
The workers’ union, Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) noted that they received a correspondence from the President’s Secretary which is dated January 13 stating that it was referred.
However, GAWU General Secretary, Seepaul Narine posited that the President could have addressed the issue himself, which would see both parties coming to a consensus. But referring it, he added, is a clear indication of the glaring lack of concern the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) has for the sugar industry.
“This is not the first time that correspondences addressed to the President have not been frontally addressed by him but is referred to one of his Ministers. While Mr Granger obviously can decide how to address a matter, our experience has been that matters referred to other Ministers by the President are hardly ever addressed, at least positively. Of course, we believe that the President could have fully addressed the matter as we are aware that he has been presented with proposals from the GuySuCo regarding the pay rise matter. The fact that he has chosen to take the focus away from him is a mouthful in itself,” Narine said.
“This is days now and we have not heard from him, so it appears as if there is no seriousness in addressing the matter,” Narine added.
Narine is contending that the Agriculture Minister is not going to address the issue. This is due to the fact that the Minister is ready to give up his office since General and Regional Elections are right around the corner.
“At this time, we hardly have any hope that the Minister of Agriculture would address the matter. From all appearances, [he] has began to pack up his desk and he seems eager to head out the door.”
“We are awaiting on Holder and we are waiting on him because the President say he will respond to us. But the fact that [he] hasn’t up to now, and we are not certain if he is going to respond and what would be his answer.”
There has been a stagnancy in wages in the sugar belt, whereby the last increase in pay was in 2014. This Government took over in 2015 amid a promise that the workers would receive an increase and sugar is too big to fail.
In December last year, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder had said that sugar workers may not benefit from an increase like the rest of public servants because GuySuCo does not have money.