AFC expresses deep concern over sugar workers

Under criticism for not standing up to its founding principles in the governing coalition or representing its constituencies, the Alliance For Change yesterday expressed deep concern for the welfare of sugar workers.

The sugar corporation in the last few days has laid off thousands of workers.

In a statement yesterday, the AFC said that as per the requirements in law, severance must be in place for the affected workers.

The Party recommended that in addition to severance, consideration must be given to:

– offer of land leases for alternative economic engagement

– access to small concession loans for said alternative engagement

– access to extension services and markets for agro-processing.

The AFC said that it recognises that the State Paper on GuySuCo which was laid in the National Assembly in May outlined certain actions which were necessary and unavoidable.

“The Party is cognizant that GuySuCo has been engaging with the workers and their unions for some time now regarding actions which are necessary and calls on GuySuCo to intensify this initiative to ensure that all workers are adequately briefed, counseled and are presented with all the necessary information regarding the future status of GuySuCo and the sugar sector.

“The Party recognizes that the future of GuySuCo is of paramount importance and the government must continue to pursue those options for the sugar industry which is not a burden on the national treasury.

“The AFC looks forward to an amicable resolution to this issue, but insists that as the Yuletide season is upon us, workers must not be adversely affected and the offer of severance must be thoroughly detailed and presented to the workers now”, the party added.

Meanwhile, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) yesterday expressed deep concern and condemned the firing of almost 4,000 sugar workers from the Skeldon, Enmore and Rose Hall factories, including junior staff, supervisors and clerks.

“While thousands are now without a job and are on the breadline, thousands more are indirectly affected by this callous decision.

The firing of the sugar workers comes less than a month after the Coalition Government assured that the closure of estates, including Rose Hall and Enmore, will not be done in 2017. The Coalition government also assured that it would have considered the ‘best interests of sugar workers’ before decisions are made, in relation to the sugar sector’s future”, the party stated.

The PPP called on the APNU+AFC Coalition government to take immediate steps to address the plight of sugar workers.

“The PPP rejects the government’s arguments about available fiscal space to continue support for the sugar industry, making the decision to fire thousands of sugar workers a political one.

“The Party calls on all sugar workers to remain vigilant ahead of the struggle to reverse these heartless decisions, which are discriminatory and cannot be supported by any rational thinking or evidence-based assessment”, the party said.



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