Canje sugar workers yesterday afternoon were told by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo that if the PPP/C is re-elected in 2020 to office the workers will benefit from the budget by way of a monthly payment until they are re-employed.
Jagdeo who held bottom house meetings in Canefield and Reliance, East Canje Berbice stressed, that if the PPP/C is re-elected to govern the country, the 4000 sugar workers who were recently retrenched will receive support from the budget in addition to their severance pay. “When we take back office, I am making a pledge on behalf of the PPP that every single person who has been terminated that outside of their severance they will get support from the budget until we can find places for them, they will get monthly payments”.
Additionally he noted, that the opposition will meet in January with the affected sugar workers to strategize on the way forward.
He noted, that one plan will be to pressure the government to subsidize electricity and water to the affected workers.
The former president told the sugar workers that the decision to close sugar estates and retrench thousands is one that was predictable. He warned that the plan to close sugar factories and estates now will jeopardize Guyana’s sugar industry in the future.
“They’re just starting, this seem to be the first round and then will be other estates”.
However, he noted, that the party is hopeful that they will return to office before the present government decides to “dismantle the other estates”.
According to Jagdeo, once they are re-elected they will work on reversing the decisions.
The workers present shared their plight with the former president. One worker highlighted that the closure of the Rose Hall Estate will result in him not affording to support his two children in school. While others stated, that they have “loans and bills to pay”.
One man who held his young child in his hands said, “I search from Corentyne to New Amsterdam to in Canje here and couldn’t find a job yet”.
The Opposition Leader told them that the next couple of years will be rough, however, the party will support the workers until betterment comes.
Adding to this, workers raised questions relating to their severance pay. “They paying workers based on our basic earnings instead of our gross earnings”, said one person.
Jagdeo told the workers who feel there are irregularities with their expected severance pay to meet with Region Six, PPP/C parliamentarian, Attorney at Law, Adrian Anamayah, who was also present at the meeting to seek legal clarity. He said if after gathering the necessary information irregularities are found, the party will support the workers to challenge the corporation.
Some workers present informed the Opposition Leader that the talk of the town is “whoever get lands won’t get severance”. To this Jagdeo said, “If they are giving you severance, lands and training take them all”.
The workers also told Jagdeo that no-one from the government has yet met with them and explained properly the plans for the affected sugar workers.
However, it was here that one man present jumped up and said, “The 20% promise them make blind all of us”. The entire gathering then agreed with the man by saying “yes”.
One woman from Reliance said, “That is the promise that catch all them workers here”.
Jagdeo stressed to the workers that now is the time to come together as the few years ahead will be “tough” ones.