More than a year after he was dismissed following a confrontation with Skeldon Estate Manager Dave Kumar, GuySuCo employee Stephen Daniels was yesterday re-employed and will be compensated, though a figure has not yet been arrived at.
The decision to reinstate Daniels was taken after a review of the case was completed following the intervention of the GuySuCo board along with the Ministries of Agriculture and Social Protection.
Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder made the announcement at a brief press conference yesterday in the presence of Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection Simona Broomes, President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) Komal Chand and Chief Labour Officer (CLO) Charles Ogle.
On September 19, 2014, Daniels was dismissed without a hearing following a confrontation he had with Kumar the day before. The dismissal sparked a protest which saw workers striking for four days. Representatives from GAWU and from the Skeldon estate had approached Kumar and asked him to withdraw his decision but he declined.
On September 24, a MOU was signed where workers agreed to go back to work in return for Daniels’ dismissal being varied to suspension without pay, while talks proceeded at the then Ministry of Labour to settle the matter. Conciliation at the ministry failed and arbitration was ordered.
At the end of the arbitration, the one-man tribunal of former CLO Mohammed Akeel had announced that Daniels’ dismissal would remain in effect. GAWU had said that it was “flabbergasted” at the upholding of the dismissal by the Akeel tribunal. In January, the union moved to the High Court to challenge Akeel’s finding.
Holder said yesterday that after the matter was brought to his attention he immediately organized a meeting with the GuySuCo board for discussions and requested a review of the matter. He said the last meeting was held on Thursday and a decision was taken in a matter of days.
Daniels told reporters yesterday that the financial burden he faced during his period of unemployment resulted in him losing his home as he was unable to pay his mortgage. He said before that occurred, his family also fell apart. However, despite all that he expressed his gratitude to the board and ministries and said he is willing to start over since he now has his job back.
Ogle said the matter is one which has been quite emotional and sensitive and has struck the very foundation of fairness, justice and equality.
“Today’s decision brings an end, and the correction to the injustice Daniels had to suffer,” Ogle noted.