Earlier this week, sugar workers protested President David Granger for an increase in salaries. It was another similar protest by those workers to have their concerns addressed over the tenure of the APNU/AFC Government. Sadly, and probably deliberately, their collective voice has fallen on deaf ears as Mr Granger and his APNU/AFC coalition government continue to ignore the plight those workers face.
Having being forced into unemployment following the callous closure of some estates by the APNU/AFC government, sugar workers have not only been plunged into poverty but have been humiliated in the process as their dignity was stripped as thousands were suddenly made incapable of providing for their families.
The tsunami-like social impact devastated many communities resulting in some schoolchildren being unable to continue their studies and females forced into undesirable practices in their endeavour to assist their families.
Adding to their woes was the APNU/AFC’s reluctance to pay the workers their deserved severance. Having taken massive salary increases for themselves, Government officials then forced the excuse of unavailability of funds in their quest to not pay the workers.
With no relief forthcoming, the workers were then forced to take legal action against the APNU/AFC Government for the payment of the withheld severance. That in itself was humiliating given their lack of financial resources. As time progressed, the non-payment dragged on and the social impact foisted upon the workers worsened.
In spite of that, no relief mechanism was offered by the Government. It was the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and civic-minded citizens and organisations that took action to help the affected workers and their families by providing much-needed food hampers.
Being forced from a position of earning into lines to collect hampers could have never been easy for those affected. Yet, Mr Granger and his government remained aloof to their sufferings. It was said APNU/AFC, when in Opposition, that proclaimed putting money into the sugar industry was similar to the effects of a black-hole.
That, and other related comments, clearly indicated APNU/AFC coalition’s desire to quash the sugar industry. That desire was reportedly premised on political vendetta given the coalition’s belief that all sugar workers were supportive of the PPP. It became easier for that desire to be realised after the coalition came into Government in May 2015.
It was therefore not surprising they rushed to close some estates whilst ignoring the recommendations of a commission it established. That further suggests the intent to close despite the monumental consequences. Simply put, the APNU/AFC coalition government seemed very uncaring to sugar workers. Their related actions make it extremely difficult to conclude otherwise.
Now, as an election approaches, Mr Granger has suddenly found his ability to sound caring towards the workers. He is now boasting of giving lands to them if his government were to win the upcoming March 2 elections. Clearly, he had five years to do something for the workers and their affected families; he didn’t.
Would he have made the boast of giving land if an election was not on the horizon? From the seeming undignified manner in which he and his government treated the sugar workers, the answer to that question would be a resounding no. Having ignored the workers and their plight and now uttering a promise of land in an election campaign to suggest a semblance of care is not only disingenuous but a mockery of the workers and their sufferings.
Similarly, Mr Granger recently professed that if his coalition were to win come March 2, by the end of his Government’s second term, there will be no “Plastic City”. While making that utterance, he lamented the poor condition residents of that area face on a daily basis. Again, he had five years to speak of the plight of those residents and to do something meaningful. Nothing was done.
Once more, his electioneering can be seen as a mockery of the sufferings of those residents in “Plastic City”. If for a moment, he were to be given the benefit of correct mathematics, the end of a second term would be ten years. It implies a period of a decade for “Plastic City” to get any semblance of help. Some could interpret that as a gross insult to intelligence.
The promises of land to sugar workers and to assist “Plastic City” are not the only ones Mr Granger and his team are rolling out as March 2 approaches. It seems the only tool in their shed having been unable to achieve anything of substance during the past five years. What the coalition has racked up during its tenure is a plethora of allegations of massive corruption and incompetence.
With no achievement to boast of in the elections campaign, making promises seem the alternative. With a proven track record of not delivering on campaign promises, these new ones appear as another form of mockery to the populace. Many may see that as glaring dishonesty in a campaign that is touted as honest and decent.