A fund could be set up for retrenched sugar workers

Dear Editor,

Government is encouraged to fast forward plans and financial assistance payments to sugar workers immediately.  This is not an issue to leave on the desk.  Guyanese abroad with families in the sugar belt are encouraged to make contact with them to see what can be done to help them if necessary.

My sympathies go out to our sugar workers. This will probably mark the most difficult part of their lives, but all Guyanese encourage them to face this time of their trial boldly. Affected sugar workers are placed in a situation in which virtually everything that earns an income becomes an opportunity to get money. Before they start looking for work, they should explore all the available avenues for getting financial assistance, from family abroad or wherever.

Looking for a job will involve screening the classifieds every day for job opportunities and leaving home early every day for places where there is a possibility of getting either a regular job, or ‘job work’ if available. They should take a check of their skill set ‒ things like carpentry, mechanic’s work, masonry, welding and construction experience, and cooking. They should also know when they are getting robbed by their potential employers, because these instances will arise very often.

Their minds should be resolved to do anything that is not illegal to acquire money, and could include even going into the interior, although I was made to understand that things are not so bright there right now.

Employers capable of extending a hand by offering jobs to sugar workers without underpaying them too much should step up to the plate and give something back to Guyana by taking on a couple of sugar workers until they can establish themselves more firmly.

While we await the details of government’s financial assistance package to determine its effectiveness, we propose that in the interim our established companies come together to set up a single account under the supervision of an independent accounting firm to receive donations to distribute to affected workers. There can also be American, Canadian, and UK accounts, which can in turn funnel donations to the Guyana account. Advertisements should be placed in the local press to encourage affected sugar workers to register. Payments could be made twice per month: on the 2nd and 17th.  Additionally, major supermarkets and grocery stores could establish links with religious institutions within the affected areas to work out plans for providing hampers which should include sanitary items and foodstuff at least.

Yours faithfully,

Craig Sylvester

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