Members of the National Association of Agriculture, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) will not be intimidated by the management of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and the workers will continue with their strike.
General Secretary of NAACIE, Kenneth Joseph told Stabroek News that over 400 workers were committed to maintain industrial action ongoing since December 27, 2013. He said this was in spite of GuySuCo’s management team trying to intimidate strikers at the Wales Estate on Wednesday.
Joseph said union members had reported to NAACIE that the GuySuCo CEO Raj Singh was at the Wales Estate with other members of management attempting to identify union representatives.
Stabroek News confirmed that Singh was at Wales on Wednesday, but he was not available for comment when this publication reached out.
Joseph said too that GuySuCo has blatantly disregarded the Norman McLean Arbitration award.
Currently GuySuCo has not adjusted the wages earned by NAACIE union members as per the collective labour agreement. Since 2011 arbitrators have looked into how salaries needed to be assessed and determined additionally that employees are to be paid an increase of two per cent per year of employment up to 10 years of service.
Joseph explained that this has not been done and has caused anomalies across the board. He said GuySuCo has reported that to correct this it would cost $42 million. “They then told us no it would be [an] additional $22 million…,” he said, adding that no computation was provided to show how the figure was arrived at.
He said NAACIE had approached the Ministry of Labour which noted that GuySuCo’s implementation of the increase in wages was done incorrectly under the arbitration award and CLA of 2011.
Joseph told Stabroek News that instead of rectifying the situation management was now attempting intimidate workers as well as producing in-house reports on the damaging effects of the strike on sugar production.
He said in a statement “this is the type of human resources management that has been causing the corporation to lose it workers in the field, factory and office.”
In a release GuySuCo stated that in fact only 137 workers were on strike out of approximately 1,000 with 39 from the Blairmont estate.
The state-owned corporation called the strike action “unofficial” as GuySuCo had deemed the workers not entitled to the payments.
GuySuCo stated that on Tuesday it reached out to Joseph who did not confirm that a strike would commence on Wednesday. The corporation said, “The genesis of the workers’ claim is a misinterpretation of the Norman McLean Arbitration award, which was made in April last year. The arbitration tribunal, which had comprised Normal McLean, Chair-man, and committee members Drs Gobin Ganga and Clive Thomas, was appointed to ‘inquire into the request for a review of the job evaluation agreement between the union (NAACIE) and the corporation (GuySuCo) dated July 8, 2011 and to correct the anomalies, if any, that existed after the job evaluation agreement between GuySuCo and NAACIE’.”
NAACIE has expressed that it has no intention of ceasing the industrial action, which GuySuCo has labelled unofficial. Joseph stated that NAACIE will reach out to FITUG and will write to the International Labour Organisation by the end of the month seeking guidance.
NAACIE has been in an aggressive constant battle with GuySuCo over wage anomalies since 2010, prior to arbitration.