The GAWU has recognized from reports appearing in several sections of the media that Agriculture Minister Noel Holder has stated that the GuySuCo is no longer under his charge following the decision to transfer responsibility of the sugar company to NICIL, which falls under the Ministry of Finance. While our union did hear about the transfer of GuySuCo, we also recognized recently that Minister Holder was speaking to matters concerning GuySuCo. Just about two weeks ago, Minister Holder is reported in the February 6, Guyana Times speaking about the Wales cane-cutters demand for severance. If it is that the Minister was not in charge then why did he not inform the press to seek an audience with the relevant Minister, in this case Minister of Finance Winston Jordan.
The GAWU sees Minister Holder’s sudden, and obviously belated, announcement being linked to a picketing exercise outside his Ministry by the affected cane-cutters of Wales Estate on February 21, who were demanding that their severance payments be honoured. It seems that the workers spirited and vociferous picketing probably got under the Minister’s skin and thus his quick resort to the media.
Though Minister Holder is no longer responsible, he cannot wash his hands when it comes to this matter. He was, since August, 2017, asked by President David Granger to respond to the workers call for their severance. Though having clear instructions from President Granger, Minister Holder never responded to the workers’ demand until a few weeks ago, when he said that the matter has to be addressed by the judiciary. Even though the GAWU did appropriately respond to Minister Holder’s misguided contentions, he, even at that late stage, did not see it fit to advise that he should not be speaking on matters concerning GuySuCo.
The fact that the Minister is now ignominiously seeking to extricate himself says a lot about the respect he has for the workers. It clearly seems that the Minister only responds to determined and collective demands as shown by the February 21, 2018 demonstration by the workers of Wales.