Hopeful for some degree of normalcy in sugar industry

Dear Editor,
The GAWU was pleased to see President Dr Irfaan Ali spending a few moments, during his inauguration address, to speak about the sugar industry. Indeed, the President adequately summed up the situation in the industry which, we hold, was glaringly ignored and sidelined by the past regime. Our Union is on record in expressing our dismay as it regarded the callous manner in which the former Administration cast aside the industry and the several thousand who depended on its operations. As the August 10, sections of the media revealed former workers of Rose Hall Estate are still yet to recover from the closure almost three (3) years ago.
It is not to say that the coalition was not warned. Our Union, among others including President Ali, had warned of the ramifications of the cold-hearted decision. But for our chorus of voices, the APNU/AFC simply chose to ignore the obvious and plunge headlong into the minimisation of the industry without even the slightest clues of how it would address the economic and social fallout. Their actions, which can only be described as heartless, have set back the well-being of thousands. As the media reports pointed out, the workers and their families have seen their standard-of-living curtailed as they seek to make their ends meet. We share President Ali’s views when he said this is not the Guyana we should want at any time.
Our Union, certainly like the thousands who have been plunged into hardship and misery, were most heartened to hear of the Government’s commitment to bring back semblance to their lives. For them, the days and weeks since closure are probably the most difficult they have faced in their lives and ones they wish never to endure again. We recognise that re-opening will not be a quick process and the Government has a great deal of work to do. We have learnt that several movable assets were sold at fire-sale prices and equipment and buildings were allowed to fall into disrepair. The conditions of the abandoned cane fields are yet another steep challenge. But as experience and time have shown, where there is a will there is a way. Our Union is hopeful that the process can commence in earnest at soonest and some degree of normalcy and hope can be restored.

Yours faithfully,
Seepaul Narine,
General Secretary