Government did know number of sugar workers to be retrenched

Dear Editor,

The GAWU recognized the January 16, 2018 Stabroek News reporting Minister of State Joseph Harmon as saying “…that the government was not sure of exactly how many workers would be sent home and so had made the nominal allocation”. We cannot help but find the Minister’s explanation insincere.

Minister Harmon was present when the government shared with our union, among others, on December 31, 2016 a copy of the then GuySuCo’s CEO, Errol Hanoman’s presentation to the Cabinet in October, 2016. That presentation advised about the number of workers who stood to be affected and indicated a cost of severance pay. Added to that fact, was that GuySuCo on December 20, 2017 told our union during a meeting that it had informed the government several weeks before the 2018 Budget presentation about the number of employees who would be made redundant as well as a preliminary sum for those workers’ severance payments. Certainly, to say government was not aware says a mouthful. We remember too Minister Harmon saying neither he nor the Cabinet was not aware that redundancy letters were going to be distributed to thousands of workers.

From the statement by Minister Harmon, it seems that the Stabroek News was correct to say in its December 10, 2017 issue that“[t]his whole episode seems to suggest that there is no firm hand guiding decision-making, or anyone with sufficient authority to intervene when contradictions or antagonisms emerge”. The time for excuse-making is over and the government needs to get its act together. GAWU contends that it’s still not too late to go into reverse and re-open the estates ending the misery and difficulty that is pervading.

Yours faithfully,

Seepaul Narine

General Secretary

GAWU

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