Saying that it remains committed to the just demands of sugar workers, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) yesterday called on the sugar corporation to review its position on increased wages and the Annual Production Incentive (API).
The union issued a statement, noting that the issues of wages and the API remain unsettled as the year nears a close. It added that it is disheartened by how sugar workers are being treated “so shabbily” in the midst of the Christmas season. “We note the increases awarded to other sector workers and welcome these, though in today’s circumstances we can support an even bigger increase for them, noting the cost of living,” it said. “But it is unfair that an important section of Guyana’s workforce is left out in the cold. They too deserve wage increases. We urge GuySuCo, its Directors and other state officials to [review] its stated positions thus far and ensure workers are not denied wage increases or their API,” it added.
GuySuCo had informed the union earlier this month that it is in no position to pay wage increases and/or honour the API agreement due to a dismal production year, but last week the corporation said it would pay workers their usual second one week holiday-with-pay before the year ends.
However, GAWU said yesterday that a reasonable increase in pay retroactive to January 1, 2010 is necessary and possible, if the corporation is serious about worker-morale in the industry.
The union said too that sugar workers are expecting a positive response from GuySuCo because the industry is vital to the economy and sugar workers are one of the main pillars. “It is appropriate to respect that without them no plan, no matter how good, will gain traction,” GAWU said.
The union recalled that at Christmas last year, sugar workers were awarded “a miserly” three percent from the Gobind Ganga tribunal, noting that even that payment was delayed. GAWU said the ball is now in GuySuCo’s court and that it stands ready to support, “in the workers and their dependents interest, any wise counsel that prevails.”