GuySuCo estates grind to a halt over pay demands
Operations at sugar estates across the country ground to a halt yesterday as workers upped demands for more pay. The affected estates included Rose Hall, Albion and Skeldon, and those from East and West Demerara.
At Rose Hall, more than 300 workers were gathered in front of the estate, refusing to work yesterday.
According to Vice President of National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), Victor Seegobin, workers are dissatisfied with the results of a salary survey and the
Seegobin claimed adjustments have resulted in cleaners earning more than the junior bookkeeper. Workers are now vowing to stay away from work until their demands are met.
The workers said that they met last Wednesday with Jairam Petam, a senior official from the Head Office of the Guyana Sugar Corporation, who said that entity was in no position to raise their salaries at present.
According to Julian Rambali, a Field Supervisor, the last job evaluation was done in 2009. Retroactive payments were done three years after. He was paid in 2011 based on a salary scale dating back to that time. He claimed that job evaluations were done for members of another union, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) in 2011, two years after the one for NAACIE. However, GAWU members are being paid higher.
Workers claimed yesterday that they are being paid $196 per hour for eight hours and some are being paid roughly $2,300 per day, despite some workers serving over 21 years with GuySuCo. This is compared to “Rat Catchers” who earn $3,500 per day.
Meanwhile, NAACIE in a statement said that their members downed tools over what they viewed as significant anomalies with respect to their wages and salaries resulting from the findings and implementation of a recent Job Evaluation and Salary Survey exercise.
In the sugar sector, NAACIE represents key categories of GuySuCo workers including all clerical and medical staff, sugar boilers, laboratory technicians, workshop supervisors, foremen and Head Office staff at Ogle and LBI.
NAACIE said that the union and GuySuCo met and signed an agreement on July 8, 2012, in principle, to honour the findings of a second Job Evaluation Salary Survey, despite recognising that there were problems.
“The NAACIE even agreed to give up two years of retroactive payments already agreed to, in order to cause that agreement which had to be given the go-ahead by the Government, the main stakeholders of GuySuCo.”
NACCIE said that disgruntled workers, recognising that lower categories in GuySuCo’s structure were paid at higher rates than them, decided to take strike action, a move fully endorsed by the union.
“As a result, the already embattled Corporation has now experienced a complete shutdown at all estates.”
Up to late yesterday, there were no statements from GuySuCo.