GAWU has mounted a strong, consistent struggle against estate closures

Dear Editor,

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has recognized from a newsroom report entitled ‘Fmr Gov’t Minister touts international relief fund for sugar workers’ that prominent business executive, Mr Ramesh Dookhoo, who was interviewed, is quoted to have said that the sugar unions should “focus a little more on the plight of the workers who have so far been dismissed”. While heartened by former Minister Robert Persaud’s call and pleased by Mr Dookhoo’s interest. At this time, however, we cannot fail to point out that we have always been concerned about the workers’ plight, moreso now with the serious difficulties that would have flowed from the cutting down of the sugar industry.

Our union, since the announcement that Wales would be closed in January, 2016, has been mounting a strong and consistent struggle against estate closure and sell-out recognizing the obvious hardship that it would bring to those affected. We have used every available medium to share with Guyanese and even those beyond Guyana’s shores to bring awareness about the dilemma to not only the workers but their families and also to many communities and scores of small and medium businesses which depend significantly on workers’ earnings from the industry.

In addition to the regular media activities, no one can deny our active interaction with the working people which was reflected by public meetings and marches and picketing exercises in the sugar belt, and which in totality attracted thousands of workers and non-workers alike. We also mounted banners in several villages to call attention to what would emerge should the plans for sugar be implemented.  We have even sought the intervention of the judiciary to champion the workers’ cause.

For our principled speaking out, we have faced several criticisms launched by the administration and its supporters. Nevertheless, we have not been daunted and will continue to speak up. Our union has a proud history of struggles regarding matters related to the workers’ interests, regardless of the stones that our enemies may throw in our way. As thousands of workers now face a difficult road ahead, we stand with them and will work along with and encourage any genuine partners, organisations and individuals, who are moved and want to help to ease their burdens and lessen their travails.

Our union’s representation has not been confined to the bargaining table, but we have and will continue to use all possible measures to make our members’ lives better and more fulfilling. This is our duty and commitment as a union.

Yours faithfully,

Seepaul Narine

General Secretary


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