Dr Cheddi Jagan acted and spoke the way he did because he was the son of a sugar worker. He experienced the pain and suffering that sugar workers endured over a long period of time. “Difficulties there will be; the battle will be long and hard. But win again we will.” GAWU stands ready to defend the interests of its members and win more gains on their behalf and that of all the working people of Guyana at all costs.
Dr Gopaul must recognize that the wages and salaries’ level does not meet the expectation of a direct living wage for the sugar workers. At the same time the inflation rate practically every year has not been restricted to single digits, thus the wages and salaries have resulted each year in no improvement in the purchasing power of the sugar workers. While gains were being made for the workers in some areas, there are undemocratic forces now trying their best to destroy the union.
GuySuCo’s management made many colossal blunders when it decided to hire super salaried managers with fat benefits. The new board has been tasked with producing a ‘turnaround plan’ for the sugar industry. This was urgent business given the fall in sugar cane production, and the consequences of the EU’s removal of subsidies.
Threatening to de-recognize GAWU at this point in time will certainly aggravate the workers, and the board therefore must be able to produce an alternative arrangement in order to avoid strikes and move the industry forward without closures. Challenges and problems are there for us to overcome when we meet together and work in a civilised manner. We may not solve the problem today, but effort and determination will result in success in the end. Protection against anti-union employers is provided for in section 23 of the Trade Union Act, 1979, which at the same time protects trade unions’ rights to organise and the workers’ right to freedom of association.
Former GAWU Field Secretary