Uitvlugt sugar workers strike over GuySuCo’s default on Holiday-With-Pay commitment

…1-week grinding before HWP can be facilitated – GuySuCo

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) are again at loggerheads. This time over the Holiday With Pay (HWP) entitlement for the first crop of 2022.
On Tuesday morning, workers of Uitvlugt Estate staged a picketing exercise outside the estate calling on GuySuCo to honour its HWP obligations for the first crop of 2022.
According to GAWU, the holiday-with-pay is paid to workers in lieu of annual leave and is provided at the end of each crop to qualified workers.
The Union said on Tuesday that the 2022 first crop at Uitvlugt was truncated arising from issues within the factory; however, workers continued to work and were qualified to receive their entitlements which is in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement between GAWU and GuySuCo.
“The estate contends that the workers are not entitled to the HWP payments. At the same time, other sections of the employees continue to receive their full annual leave entitlements. For the workers, this is disturbing as they all benefited similarly from the support of the Government,” the Union said, adding that previously, the workers indicated that the management informed them that certain computations were being undertaken towards addressing the payments. Without any forewarning, the Corporation changed its position, the Union noted, and only offered HWP to workers engaged in planting tasks.

GuySuCo concerned
However, GuySuCo, in response, expressed grave concern in relation to the strike action.
According to the Corporation, with the factory having only ground for 14 hours in the first crop due to a mechanical failure, the grinding operations for the second crop were set to commence on Tuesday.
“…however, disappointingly, the factory workers decided to proceed on strike. The workers are demanding Holiday with Pay (HWP) for the first crop of 2022. Management had earlier addressed this issue at a meeting held on May 31, 2022 with the GAWU’s union representative attached to the estate. At that meeting, the Estate Manager informed the Union Representatives that for HWP to be facilitated, a factor will have to be established which requires at least one (1) week of grinding,” GuySuCo said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Estate, it said, is fully ready to commence grinding operations for the second crop in pursuit of a sugar production target of 10,800 metric tonnes (MT). The sugar company said that 223 punts of cane were in dock. It said that this cane was ready to be crushed, pointing out that the strike action by the factory workers did not augur well for the Estate and the Corporation.
“The Corporation, therefore, urges all employees of Uitvlugt Estate to work harmoniously and would also like to call on the GAWU to provide the support needed at this time,” the entity said.

Sugar shortage
On July 7, it was announced that Uitvlugt Sugar Estate factory is gearing up to begin producing 1000 bags of sugar per day from last weekend – a move which was expected to bring some relief as citizens continue to complain of an apparent shortage of sugar on the local market, a situation which is driving up prices where the commodity remains available.
Citizens have been complaining of an apparent shortage of sugar on the local market, something which has persisted for some two months.
On social media, hundreds of persons have shared their experiences of a sugar shortage at their local shops, and in some cases, supermarkets.
Guyana Times also spoke to several persons, who indicated that none of their local shops are selling the product. One individual told this publication that she resorted to buying imported white sugar.