Sugar workers, Union picket Ministry of the Presidency

call on President Granger to end “the blatant and glaring discrimination”

Sugar workers along with officials of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) on Thursday staged a picketing exercise outside of the Ministry of the Presidency. According to GAWU, the action is part of a wider exercise taking place across the sugar industry, outside the Administrative offices of the Estates. The representatives are denouncing the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) harsh stance of constricting workers’ wages and salary to 2014 levels.

In a statement issued on Thursday, GAWU said the workers and the union are calling on President David Granger to end the blatant and glaring discrimination perpetuated on the sugar workers for two consecutive years and; resort to having the union’s wage/salary claim for 2016 addressed at the conciliatory level within a timeframe was thwarted by GuySuCo.

The insistence by GuySuCo that the examination in the National Assembly of the 2017 National Budget proposals precluded discussions of the union’s wage/salary claim of 8 per cent. Also, the ‘excuses’ by the Corporation’s Chief Industrial Relations Manager regarding a busy schedule rendered the conclusion of the conciliatory proceedings just a few days before the December 23, 2016 closure of the current crop. At the bilateral and conciliatory levels, no pay increases were approved by GuySuCo obviously and understandably a stance in sync with the ruling of the APNU/AFC Government and the GuySuCo IMC team.protest-1

GAWU reiterated to GuySuCo representatives at the various meetings that their consistent bad treatment of workers of recent will only go to stoke dissatisfaction among the thousands of sugar workers throughout the sugar belt.

“Inevitably, demotivation and declining morale of the workers will result and which will not be in the industry’s interest at this time. Our union repeatedly pointed out too that while the industry will seek to produce maximum sugar production vis-à-vis the resources it employs, diversification into electricity production, white sugar, alcohol and distilling, all recommended by the Sugar Commission of Inquiry established by the APNU/AFC Government last year offer good prospects for a viable future. Simultaneously, we reminded GuySuCo that cattle rearing, rice cultivation, aquaculture, and orchard fruits have had miserable results in the past,” GAWU stated.

Further, the union noted that it is rather despondent that President Granger has not even acknowledged the union’s correspondence sent to him on December 15, 2016, requesting that Government’s bonus of $25,000 be paid to sugar workers as well. In recent months, correspondences sent by GAWU to Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, on matters relating to workers interests and the future of the industry have not been acknowledged as well, it added.

“In this Season of Goodwill, it is disheartening for GAWU to record that sugar workers and their families will be unable to fully enjoy this festive period unlike their compatriots in other sectors.

It is indeed vexing that workers children and grandchildren may not be able to receive the usual goodies the Season brings with it,” the union stressed.

According to GAWU, sugar workers are acquiring bitter lessons and accumulating sad experiences over these last 19 months; they are able to see how much they were deceived when many in high offices made grand promises to them; now, they must fight to protect and preserve even minimal benefits they earlier enjoyed.

“We are sure that the experiences and the unwarranted pressures they face now-a-days will lift their class awareness and help them in their continuing struggles against injustices and for their all-round betterment,” the statement added.