900 sugar workers to be laid off already accounted for – Agri Ministry

The Ministry of Agriculture says that the new set of workers who are expected to be laid off from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) have already been catered for in the released figure of 4,763.

In Tuesday’s edition of Stabroek News, it was reported that hundreds more workers were expected to be laid off, after the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) released a statement on Monday saying that information from the sugar company pointed to more workers being laid off.

PRO of GuySuCo, Audreyanna Thomas, when contacted on Monday by this newspaper, confirmed that more workers were expected to be laid off, but explained that she could not provide an exact figure.

However, a release from the Agriculture Ministry on Tuesday stated that the “first list of workers for severance had 3,700 persons, which together with the 900 that is being referred to by sections of the Media, adds up to the 4,763 severed workers and not an additional 900.”

“The 900 workers were retained by the Corporation to man certain key facilities and structures and to provide security. However, they were aware of that at the end of the extended period that they too would be sent home and paid their severance. These are workers of Skeldon, Rose Hall and East Demerara Estates that have been closed,” the statement said.

According to the statement, for the Skeldon workers, 64 are coming from the agriculture section, 18 from the factory, 42 from administration and 63 from security. For Rose Hall, 136 were laid off from the agriculture department, 68 from the factory, 48 from administration and 54 from security. For the East Demerara Estate, 110 were from the agriculture section, 16 from the factory, 45 from administration and 54 from security. With respect to Wales, 51 persons came from the agriculture section, 27 from the factory, 33 from administration and 54 from security, which brought the total number to 967, and includes 62 senior staff.

Despite thousands of workers being laid off, GAWU said that they are of the opinion that the closing of the estates could be reversed.

“Dismayingly, that arrangement has fallen through and the workers are hapless victims. The further expansion of the unemployed sugar belt is without a doubt making a really bad situation even worse. Given the absence of any plans to deal with the fallout from the miniaturizing of the industry and the fiasco that has surrounded the workers’ severance payment, this further… retrenchment is heart-rending to say the least,” the statement added.

Last year, with December 31, 2017 being their last working day, more than 4,000 workers rang in the New Year without jobs. However, despite being owed severance pay, a large majority of the workers had not received their monies.

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