GAWU says that a group of 40 cane planters were told by GuySuCo today that there was no work for them at the East Demerara Estate, a sure sign the union said that the estate is to be shuttered.
A statement from GAWU follows:
A delegation of cane planters employed at the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) East Demerara Estate (Enmore and LBI Estates) travelled to the Head Office of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) today (March 20, 2017) and met with a number of union officials. The forty (40) odd workers who met with the Union’s leadership are deeply incensed with an instruction from the Estate’s Management that they have to engage in cane cutting operations with immediate effect.
The workers’ agitation was heightened vis-à-vis the Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) subsisting between the Union and the Corporation which stipulates their usual tasks. The workers having considered that the Estate Management advised that cane planting tasks are no longer available argued correctly that they are, in fact, redundant and they are, therefore, entitled to their severance pay.
The decision by the Corporation to end cane planting is testimony that the Estate is being geared for closure. Interestingly, so far, no official announcement to that end has been made either by the Government or by the GuySuCo, yet the Corporation is implementing steps indicating the estate’s closure.
On March 15, 2017, our Union having learnt that GuySuCo was moving to end cane planting at the East Demerara and the Rose Hall Estates wrote to the Corporation’s CEO requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the development. Thus far, GuySuCo has not yet responded to the Union’s request although it is an urgent matter.
With the willful demise of Wales Estate, the closure of two (2) other estates would likely elicit much condemnation noting that there isn’t any credible plan to address the thousands who would be affected. No study was commissioned and the non-conduct of a socio-economic study would be an everlasting indictment on our decision makers.
It is recalled that the operations of LBI Estate were amalgamated with Enmore Estate in the second half of 2016 in order to save the cane operations, according to GuySuCo, on the East Demerara. Now just months later, the closure of the estate operations has been initiated. It demonstrates that partial political consideration has been given by the Government towards the industry.
East Demerara Estate employs no less than 2,200 employees in the field, factory, security, administrative and managerial sections. They and their families, among many others, stand to be affected by the harsh closure decision. We, once more, urge the Government to abandon this consistent anti-worker direction given the dire consequences to a major segment of the Guyanese working-class.
We feel constrained to draw attention that the latest step taking place at East Demerara Estate follows closely on the heels of a reported statement by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo that sugar will not die.
Wales’ experiences are fresh in our thoughts as hundreds have been sent on the breadline and to a state of despair. Hundreds more again on East Demerara Estate seem to be destined also to go this way, and worse too, seemingly at this time, are being denied their severance entitlements.