Home Letters The sugar workers’ strike and Opposition MPs
First, like every other worker in this country, sugar workers have a right to protest peacefully for better working conditions, better management, better wages and salaries, and better representation.
Sugar workers are very hard-working, they deserve a lot more, and we would all agree to that without a doubt. But betterment can come only when we all take the same stand for the same cause, and not for some gimmicks and political gains, as have been happening for the past few days as sugar workers in Berbice take sudden strike action against their employer, GuySuCo.
Yes, the workers made some demands, and it is known that the employer and the union representing the sugar workers had a negotiation and came up with what is best at this time for all parties. Thanks to those involved in making that negotiation happen.
Many would recall that, over the years, while the PPP was in power prior to 2015, I wrote letter after letter in the media in support of sugar workers, and I spoke up for better representation from their union, and overall betterment within the industry.
As a former member and executive of the then AFC (please note: AFC is no more, and has become PNC), I did the same for the sugar workers within the then AFC. The then AFC’s backbone was sugar workers. The then AFC’s fight was for the betterment of the sugar workers and all Guyanese.
The then AFC took to the stage with the PNC, whom they now have wed, and told sugar workers of the better life they would give them when they get into Government, and that there are monies within the industry that the PPP was hiding from them. Moses Nagamootoo, who backstabbed his way into becoming the PM candidate for the then AFC in 2015, cried at the feet of the workers for their votes, because he knows their struggle and would better their life as long as he gets into office. The then AFC’s Khemraj Ramjattan continued on the trend of the backstabber Nagamootoo, and did the same to sugar workers all over this country.
Low and behold, when the PNC (yes, PNC, because APNU is PNC and AFC is PNC) got into Government and I continued to highlight the plight and fight for sugar workers within the then AFC meetings and other places that I had the opportunity to, I was told by Nagamootoo that you (Abel) have to stop supporting those sugar workers and more over the people, because we are in Government now and there is no money for that industry.
I continued to fight, but it was an inner fight with myself, because those that we thought had this country at heart for the betterment of the people, all they were doing was thinking about themselves and their families. I cannot say the PNC members did that promise to the sugar workers in 2015, all because the PNC seems clueless of what was happening or taking place in the sugar industry in this country.
A while after taking his PM position, Nagamootoo sat in the cabinet and allowed the PNC to close down a few estates. Ramjattan was clueless why Nagamootoo would allow that, and then the backstabber stopped coming to Berbice and started to send Ramjattan to defend the closure of the estates.
Sugar workers lost their work, and thousands suffered when the day was up. They had no income for years, all because Nagamootoo and the PNC closed the estates, which they promised never to do as long as they get political power.
Today those mentally lazy Opposition MPs are taking to social media and traditional media, telling us, the Guyanese people, that the PPP Government doesn’t care for the sugar workers and the Government needs to provide better wages now for the workers.
Those mentally lazy MPs should take a head check, because they are the ones in Government who sent home those workers without thinking if they could earn to live and provide. The PNC did not think of any of those workers when they sent them packing, and today they want to lecture on the rights of sugar workers’ wages, when they took the same away from them. SHAMELESS PEOPLE.
It was the PPP that reopened the estates and ensured those workers who want to return to work do so. Many of the workers returned and are earning a wage when the week is up. I would want to agree it is not the amount they used to take home that they are taking home presently, but they should also understand that reopening the estates to ensure they earn wasn’t an easy task. It had to take a Government that cared for the people to do the same in less than a year in office.
Within five years, the previous Government almost crippled this country. I can recall when the PNC Government did that to sugar workers, I stood up under the shed at the RDC compound in Region 5 and told several members of the PNC in front of the PPP vice chair that the PNC cannot and will not return to office because what they are doing to the people of this region and the sugar workers going to send them packing. I constantly repeated the same day after day.
So, my brothers and sisters in the sugar industry, don’t be fooled by those mentally lazy Opposition MPs that they care for you, when they were the ones that voted to send you home without any proven valid reason(s).
The estates are now reopened by the PPP Government under the strong leadership of a man who knows your struggle, who heads the Ministry of Agriculture, the Hon Zulfikar Mustapha, MP. I am sure that this Minister, who is a very hardworking one, is going to ensure that, as time goes by, you are given the betterment that is deserving.
Sugar workers, stop following those that want to put you on the breadline again by encouraging you to protest, because all they care for now is protest after protest. I am sure that if one of you workers’ lunch bowl falls into the canal and those mentally lazy Opposition MPs hear about it, they are going to encourage you to call a protest for that bowl. That is how mentally lazy they are.
The PNC wants to use you, the sugar workers, so that when you protest, they can cuss up the Government, and little do they know they all had wanted to destroy your livelihood.
Sugar workers, do not be used by those mentally lazy people.