Government should engage the sugar workers about its plans for them

Dear Editor,

Today (December 29, 2017) will be remembered by sugar workers as one of the saddest days in the long and proud history of an industry whose manifold contribution redounded to the betterment of all Guyanese. History will record today as a day of infamy as thousands of ordinary workers were sent into the army of the unemployed through the largest retrenchment exercise in our country in recent times. Some 4,000 workers never imagined that their employment with the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) would have come to an end in such an undignified manner. In aggregate they have given centuries of service to the sugar industry and by extension the nation. For a great number, working in the cane fields and the sugar factories are the only jobs they have ever known, and it is through their hard work and efforts they managed to realize life’s goals and scored several signal achievements.

Today, as those workers leave their workplace for the last time, looking back with fondness at their years with GuySuCo, they do so with heavy hearts and in deep anguish. Today, as they move from gainfully employed to jobless, they are unsure what the days and weeks ahead will hold for them and their families. Today, they remain clueless as to when they would receive their severance packages though their living expenses continue to mount. Today, entire communities are thrown into disarray as large segments of their working people are without a job, added to the social issues and economic difficulties they face.

As the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) reflects on the situation and difficulties which now confront these workers, we are indeed dismayed that while the workers are the gravest victims, the intellectual authors, committing a serious atrocity on our working people, have been left unscathed and untouched and, if our information is correct, much wealthier. Our union reiterates that the cutting down of the sugar industry was a wrong move and one that will leave an indelible scar on our country, while aggravating a bad economic situation. It is certainly one that we will regret. At this time, we reiterate our call for the government to engage the dispossessed sugar workers and share with them what plans they have to make their lives whole once again.

Yours faithfully,

Seepaul Narine

General Secretary

GAWU

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