Sugar workers to protest closures, violations today

first_imgGuySuCo’s downsizingSugar workers have planned for today a huge protest against the closure of the Enmore Sugar Estate, the last of the East Demerara estates of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). They are scheduled to gather at the Enmore Estate factory from 7:00h today, and march through the community.Closure of this estate has not as yet been officially announced by Government, but President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand, says that workers of the Enmore Estate will be protesting for two reasons: “They will be protesting for those who are not getting work now — the planters, they are denied of their usual work; and they are also protesting against the closure,” Chand told Guyana Times on Saturday.GAWU, the workers’ union, strongly believes that Government and the management of GuySuCo are gearing to shut down yet another estate. In a statement issued on March 20, GAWU said it has been informed that the Corporation has put an end to cane planting exercises at the estate. GAWU said it has met with members of the GuySuCo Industrial Relations Department and the Estate Management, and from that engagement it has learnt that cane planters would be offered “alternative work”, which include rat baiting, infield weeding and canal cleaning.GAWU President Komal ChandGAWU says some of the workers had called for severance payment as their traditional tasks are no longer required.Guyana Times was told that, as per norm, 20 per cent of each plot is planted with new canes and the remainder of the plot is left for old canes to grow back. However, since cane planting had come to an end at the estate, GAWU feels this is a signal that GuySuCo is gearing to close down operations at the entity.A Cabinet source told a media house last month that Government intends to keep only three sugar estates operational. In an article published by that media house, it was outlined that the Enmore Estate and the Rose Hall Estate would be closed by the end of 2018.Reports are that Government plans to keep and develop the estates at Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion.Talks are ongoing with several investors in relation to the possible buyout of the Skeldon estate. Government has, in fact, already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Trinidad firm in this regard, while an Indian company which has been recommended by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s son-in-law has written the Government to express interest in buying out that estate.The Opposition People Progressive Party (PPP), whose support lies heavily in the sugar belt, has strongly opposed Government’s plans in regard to closing down the various estates. “Government’s callous decisions, which have already seen the closure of Wales Estate and the devastation of more than seventeen hundred families directly and thousands of other families indirectly, does not have our support,” the PPP had expressed in one of its missives on the matter.The closure of the Wales Estate is not yet settled, as some workers are still protesting Government’s withholding of their severance pay.Last year, the operations of the LBI Estate were amalgamated with those of the Enmore Estate in order to make both estates more efficient, according to GuySuCo. GAWU has noted that thousands of persons stand to be affected by the closure of this East Demerara Estate, which employs some 2,200 persons in the field, factory, security, administrative and managerial sections. “They and their families, among many others, stand to be affected by the harsh closure decision,” GAWU has stated. (Devina Samaroo)last_img read more