Sugar workers strike over relocation

Sugar workers began striking on Tuesday to protest to a decision by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to have them relocated from operations at Great Diamond to La Bonne Intention (LBI) on the East Coast Demerara.

In a telephone interview with Stabroek News yesterday, General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) Seepaul Narine said an unfair decision by GuySuCo led to strike action by the field workers, who protested outside the Diamond office. He added that GAWU wrote a letter to GuySuCo requesting a meeting to discuss the issue but that the request was not granted.

Narine said that after the strike action was called on Tuesday, representatives of GuySuCo decided to call a meeting with the union at which the issue was discussed. However, he said that out of that meeting only came plans to have another meeting tomorrow, when it is hoped that the matter will receive the type of attention it deserves.

Although workers remained on strike yesterday, Narine said they are expected to return to their jobs today. When asked the workers’ position on the entire issue, Narine related that the workers are reluctant to be taken to LBI for several reasons. According to him, they [the sugar workers] will have to travel longer distances and more importantly, there is work to be done at Diamond.
Narine said even though the sugar company has mentioned its desire to have the workers taken to LBI, it has not discussed interim measures that will be put in place to ensure the progression of works at Diamond, “unless they want to close Diamond down.”

Meanwhile, GuySuCo, in a press release, said plans for a meeting between the management of the sugar industry and the union was already in train at the time the strike was called where the concerns of the union and the workers will be discussed. According to the release, it is hoped that such a meeting will materialise shortly as the corporation maintains its commitment to engage all stakeholders in the effort to revitalise Guyana’s sugar industry.

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