Sugar workers strike over production incentive
Sugar workers on all estates struck yesterday over their annual production incentive.
A statement from GuySuCo yesterday said that this has resulted in a total shutdown across the industry. It said that the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) which has organized the current strike, on November 18, 2013 submitted a claim for an annual production bonus of 6.80 day’s pay for a production of 201,000 tonnes sugar, or alternatively 29,500 tonnes per day pay.
GuySuCo said that at a meeting on December 10, the Corporation suggested to the Union that it should review its original demand to facilitate further dialogue on the matter to which the General Secretary of the Union responded that the Union was “flexible” on its demand, and at the next meeting would communicate its “flexible position”.
GuySuCo said that on this note the Corporation suggested that both parties meet not later than the current week. It was then that it was agreed that both parties would meet tomorrow at the GAWU office.
“It was therefore not only most disappointing for the Union to call a strike when there was an agreement to meet and further negotiate its demand, but its action violated the core of the extant collective labour agreement.
“The strike will only exacerbate the Corporation’s ability to meet its financial obligation. Despite low production, strikes and low turnouts, the Corporation in good faith continues to enhance wages. Just 4 weeks ago the Corporation and GAWU and NAACIE reached an agreement for an across the board increase of 4%, effective from January 1, 2013. The retroactive payments calculated to be $735M will be paid on December 20, 2013”, GuySuCo said.
GuySuCo said that as of yesterday morning there were approximately 960 loaded punts with 5,300 tonnes canes waiting to be processed, which could yield 375 tonnes sugar. In addition, it said that there were 12, 500 tonnes of canes which were burnt in the fields waiting to be harvested and which could yield another 884 tonnes sugar.
The Corporation wishes to record its disappointment with this strike action and call upon all parties to act more responsibly to ensure a full resumption by today.
The industry has been hit by poor production which will likely see one of the lowest totals in recent years.