Former sugar workers urge gov’t to honour severance promise

The workers protesting outside the PM’s office (GAWU photo)

Yesterday, some ex-workers from the Skeldon and Rose Hall estates picketed  outside of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s Region 6 Office at Port Mourant demanding that the Government settles outstanding severance payments to them.

A large number of workers who were made redundant my the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) last year received a portion of their severance in January this year with a pledge that the remainder would be paid in the second half of this year. With the end of September approaching, the payment is still to be made.

In a press release yesterday, the main sugar union, GAWU said “The workers who have been entitled to their payments since December 29, 2017 have only received half of their entitlements as the Administration simply, and unfortunately, did not cater to settle its obligations to the redundant workers. The workers shared that, at this time, they desperately need their outstanding monies to allow them to defray some of life’s obligations. The first half, they have informed, has already been exhausted. They pointed out that they were forced to rely on their severance payments to meet their obligations as they have not been able to secure steady, remunerative employment.”

The press release said that protestors were also upset to hear President David Granger recently saying that severance payments were taking away from other sectors. They said they found the President’s remarks most disappointing as they pointed out that they are not asking for any concession but only seeking what they are legally entitled to.

The union said that the protesters urged the President that rather than making “outlandish and clearly irresponsible statements (go) to their villages and walk the streets and visit their homes and hear first-hand about the suffering and hardships that have descended on thousands of Guyanese as a result of his Government’s decisions”.  The workers said that Granger would hear that while he talks about an educated nation, how workers are undergoing strains to send their children to school.

“There he would hear about how really hard it is to have adequate and proper meals. There he would know that people cannot afford to pay their bills. There he would be told that his Government’s decisions have shattered happy families. Then he would know about the tragic consequences of the decisions he and his colleagues took”, the press release reported the workers as saying.

The workers said that while severance will provide a temporary reprieve, they also look forward to further aid from the Administration to help them to permanently overcome the challenges they face.  

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