Rose Hall workers have a right to accept or reject what is being offered to them

Dear Editor,

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has noted the contents of an article titled ‘Ex-Rose Hall workers refuse to take up jobs at the estate –SPU accuse union of undermining interests’ which appeared in the March 10 Kaieteur News. We found the comments that are attributed to a senior SPU official as unfortunate and surprising.

Our union during an engagement with the SPU on March 9, 2018 raised the concerns of the Rose Hall workers. During that meeting, the GAWU told the SPU team that it was unaware of its plans to re-engage workers. We reminded the SPU representatives that the unit had previously committed that it would keep our union abreast of its plans. In response the SPU team informed us that, at that time, no contract/s were formalized to engage workers and the unit undertook that it would advise the GAWU when such arrangements were finalized.

It should not be forgotten that the Rose Hall workers, like other workers, have a right to accept or not accept what is being offered to them. In fact we did share with the SPU that there is a point where workers would choose to stay home and starve than work and starve. It was against this background that our union’s President expressed the workers’ concerns as the Kaieteur News reported. We must say too that we have urged the SPU to take account of such factors as expressed by the workers and take this opportunity to publicly urge that it does so.

While the GAWU recognizes that the union and the SPU may not always see eye to eye, we sincerely believe that we both must be frank with each other in the interest of promoting good and positive relations. We were, therefore, disturbed that the SPU did not express its concern, as was outlined by the Kaieteur News article.  We nevertheless look forward to strengthening and improving the fruitful relations we have with the SPU as we work in the interest of the sugar industry and the thousands dependent on its operations.

Yours faithfully,

Seepaul Narine

General Secretary

GAWU

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