East Demerara sugar estate workers strike after 15 dismissals

-GuySuCo and GAWU to meet

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the Guyana Sugar Corporation have agreed to meet today to discuss the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of 15 sugar workers at the East Demerara Estate which sparked a strike yesterday.

Head of GAWU, Komal Chand told Stabroek News that after a meeting with the Labour Ministry it was decided that the strike which followed the dismissal of the 15 workers over the weekend would end and discussions would commence.

He said that the goal was to determine why exactly the workers were dismissed. Chand told Stabroek News that the corporation had an obligation to explain in detail exactly what occurred.

According to GuySuCo, the workers were dismissed for the “inadequate application of fertilizer”. A statement by GuySuCo said that “management, in a routine inspection, discovered that many cane plants were devoid of fertilizer, and as a consequence a thorough examination was done only to expose that there (was) massive skipping in the application of the fertilizer.”

GuySuCo added that the corporation’s 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 (was) massive skipping”. Just over half of the 226 CWT of fertilizer was utilized on the specified 20.3 hectares with the rest being unaccounted for, GuySuCo said.

Annually GuySuCo spends $2 billion to import fertilizer according to the statement by the corporation.

The sugar corporation’s field performance has been poor in recent crops and concerns had been raised over whether sufficient fertilizer was being applied. In the last crop, GuySuCo was also accused by GAWU and the other union in the industry, NAACIE of harvesting young canes just to meet the modest annual target.

Chand told Stabroek News that he did not want to make any pronouncements prior to meeting with GuySuCo but he was not pleased with how the corporation was handling the situation.

The first crop for this year is still to commence.

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