We regret that our statement on sugar, published in the Stabroek News Diaspora Column on Monday January 8, communicated the idea that the government was closing the sugar industry. Now that President Granger has briefed the nation, we are better informed of government’s plan to shut down several estates and to consolidate production in the remaining estates.
Notwithstanding this recent and welcome statement from the highest level, we maintain that official communication on their plans has been less than clear. This was the first clear public pronouncement by the government on the proposed action with regards to the sugar industry. Why has it taken so long, why has it come after thousands of sugar workers have been served with walking papers, and why did it take protests, letters and statements in the press, including ours, before there was a response?
As we pointed out in our statement, sugar is of immense national importance. What happens in sugar affects not only the workers and their families, but the nation. Moreover, the statement reflected our critique, as foundation and former members of the Working People’s Alliance, of the public and private perception that the WPA has moved away from the party’s ethos, that is defence of the interests of the working peoples of all races. Regardless of who is in power, the WPA has always opposed governmental action that affects the stability of working families. It is therefore entirely consistent with a party that has long insisted on Bread and Justice, for us to call on the WPA to join with Guyanese across all sectors to challenge plans for the sugar industry that have not been based on meaningful consultation with those who stand to be most affected. We see the current high-handed actions of the government as a recipe for social, cultural, and economic disaster. We hope that our statement acts as a wakeup call for the WPA and the government. If the response to the statement means or indicates a more people-centred style of decision making, this would be helpful.