East Demerara sugar estate workers strike after 15 dismissed for `negligence’

Approximately 380 workers on the East Demerara Estate downed tools this morning protesting the dismissal of 15 cane harvesters, GuySuCo said today.

GuySuCo said that over the weekend and yesterday the 15 were summarily dismissed for inadequate application of fertilizer, intended for 10 week-old cane plants, at Felicity Fields 49, 49A, 52 and 53, a section of the LBI cultivation, on 24th and 25th July 2014.

The corporation said that prior to the dismissal of these 15 workers, 3 junior staff and 1 senior staffer were earlier dismissed on 26th September 2014 and 19th September 2014, respectively, for allowing these workers to have fertilizer inadequately applied to the cane plants. GuySuCo said that the 15 workers have adequate experience in the application of fertilizer.

The statement said that management, during routine inspections, discovered that many cane plants were devoid of fertilizer and as a consequence a thorough examination was done “only to expose that there were massive skipping in the application of the fertilizer.”

GuySuCo said that its agriculture audit team was deployed to make an assessment of the extent of fertilizer not being applied to the cane plants.

“It was revealed that there were massive skipping, and further the supervisory staff made full payment to the 15 workers for the poor quality of work done. 226 CWT of fertilizer was intended to be applied on the fields that comprised 20.3 Ha, of which it’s estimated that almost half of the amount was applied. The rest could not be accounted for.

“The Corporation expends annually approximately $2Bln to import fertilizer and finds it totally unacceptable that fertilizer that is intended to nurture the cane plants could not be applied to them in the stipulated amount. This development could be the contributing factor for the East Demerara Estate experiencing low cane yields and stunted cane growth. The Corporation will continue to exercise a zero tolerance for this type of work behaviour, and in this sense wishes to advise those workers who are on strike to have an immediate end to their protest action and allow either the process of the grievance and/or disciplinary procedures to have their course”, the corporation said.

The East Demerara Estate is expected to commence its 1st crop this year mid next week, GuySuCo said, warning that the strike by the factory workers could only jeopardize the startup of this crop.

GuySuCo has been accused by the two sugar unions, GAWU and NAACIE of harvesting young canes last year to get close to its modest target.

 

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