The abuse of sugar workers and some tentative solutions

My intention was to write this week about whether Guyana can evade the resource curse, which is often associated with oil and natural resource extraction. However, the continuing crisis in the sugar industry and the terrible treatment of sugar workers necessitate my seventh direct column on this issue. Recently, DDL signalled it might be willing to pursue backward integration with GuySuCo to secure molasses, which is used as input for rum production. Last week Eusi Kwayana, Andaiye and Moses Bhagwan criticized the APNU+AFC government over the sacking of thousands of sugar workers without a viable alternative. As I write this column, I am reading former President Ramotar’s sensible letter (SN, Jan 11, 2018) outlining long-term proposals for the sugar industry. The trouble with Mr Ramotar’s proposals is they should have been implemented around the late 1990s or early 2000s when his party was in power.

The genie has left the bottle largely because the PPP/C let it out; as a result, there is no more short-term solution for the sugar industry. There will be very painful adjustments and thousands of job losses because of the serious policy blunders of the PPP/C and the uncaring attitude towards sugar workers by the APNU+AFC government. The callous government of well-off upper middle-class Guyanese, which early on paid itself a 50% salary increase for doing absolutely nothing, sent home thousands of poor sugar workers without a severance package and alternative vision. For decades, the clueless GAWU has ….

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